Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Volunteers comb deserts along the border for missing migrants

by Sara Fay and Sanden Totten | Take Two®

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President-Elect Donald Trump promised to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. In Part One of our series, KPBS Fronteras reporter Jean Guerrero explores the consequences of existing border barriers – and what may happen if they expand – as she joins the search for a migrant’s body. Read more: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2016/dec/13/death-border-deadly-race-against-trumps-wall/ KPBS News (via YouTube)

Every year, thousands of people attempt to enter the United States illegally through the deserts of California, Arizona and Texas.

It's a hazardous journey, and it's only getting more deadly.

Heat and dehydration, scorpions and snakes — and border security, like fences and walls — force migrants and drug smugglers to share the same paths north.

There's another group on those paths too. They're called the Aguilas Del Desierto, or Eagles of the Desert.

It's a group of volunteers who search for missing migrants, or help families recover the bodies of their loved ones. Many of them started volunteering after a friend or family member went missing.

The Aguilas often start their search with tips that are passed along from coyotes, or human smugglers. 

Jean Guerrero, Fronteras reporter for KPBS in San Diego, joined the Aguilas as they searched for a young man who went missing in the Arizona desert. They followed the directions in a text apparently sent by a drug smuggler using the man's phone. She produced a four-part series on the Aguilas and spoke with Sanden Totten about shadowing the team on a 100-degree day in Arizona, in search of the missing man.

Immigration groups estimate as many as 10,000 people have died in the years since border security was ramped up in 1994 under Operation Gatekeeper.

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue media player above.

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