One dead, dozens of arrests after a group of migrants tried to swim around the US-Mexico border fence | Seattle weather

A woman has died and 36 people have been arrested after trying to swim around a metal fence that extends into the Pacific Ocean and separates Mexico and the United States, authorities said on Saturday.

The woman was among a group of about 70 migrants who attempted to enter the United States late Friday night by swimming from Tijuana, Mexico, around the border fence and in San Diego, customs and protection said. of Borders (CBP) in a press release.

The steel fence, topped in places with accordion wire, plunges about 300 feet into the ocean and is heavily guarded, making it one of the most difficult places for people along the route to walk through. 1,900-mile border separating the two nations.

Border patrol officers reported a recent increase in the number of migrants trying to reach the California coast, often aboard overcrowded small fishing boats called pangas run by migrant smugglers, prompting CBP to expand its operations. patrol over 114 coastal miles.

The increase in the number of migrants taking to sea, brought on by a mix of factors, including the financial devastation caused by the pandemic across the hemisphere, highlights the greatest dangers they are prepared to face in reaching states. -United.

U.S. authorities acknowledged the phenomenon in August, when CBP reported record levels of maritime smuggling events in California counties of Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura, resulting in the detention of 90 undocumented migrants.

“Smuggling along the California coast is inherently dangerous and criminal organizations do not care about public safety,” officials noted in a press release. “They see migrants and drugs as mere commodities.”

Border Patrol officers responded to reports of a group attempting to reach San Diego beach around 11:30 p.m. Friday. When they reached the area, they found an unconscious woman.

They tried to resuscitate her while asking for more help from the firefighters and rescuers from the San Diego Fire and Rescue Service. The woman was pronounced dead at around 12:30 a.m., authorities said.

Border patrol, US Coast Guard, and state and local agency authorities continued to search the area and arrested 36 Mexican citizens – 25 men and 11 women – who had swam around the border fence.

The Coast Guard, who sent two cutters and a search helicopter, rescued 13 of the migrants from the water before handing them over to the border patrol, a Coast Guard spokesman said, according to the Union. -San Diego Tribune.

The 36 people were taken to a border patrol post for treatment.

It was not clear whether the rest of the migrants in the group had returned to Tijuana or had disappeared. CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This is yet another example of the ruthless tactics smuggling organizations use to boost their power and profits,” San Diego Area Chief Patrol Officer Aaron Heitke said in a statement. “We will work tirelessly to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for this tragedy.”

The United States is grappling with a record number of detentions along the Mexican border. In fiscal 2021, which ended in September, border patrol officers detained more than 1.7 million migrants along the southern border – the highest level recorded to date, according to CBP data.

But regardless of tighter border security policies and the number of detentions, the growing trend of maritime apprehensions in San Diego’s coastal waters became evident in May with several reports of intercepted vessels carrying migrants, including a ship carrying 33 people. who overturned at Point Loma, San Diego. , resulting in the death of three people and several hospitalizations.

“This is definitely something that we have seen an increase over the past two years. Last year was a record for maritime apprehensions with 1,273 apprehensions in the maritime environment,” the patrol officer said. border crossing Jacob MacIsaac at a press conference, NBC San Diego reported. .

On July 8, two migrants were hospitalized with hypothermia after another ship capsized in the resort town of Encinitas in southern California.

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