Border Patrol nixes transportation of immigrants in distress

| 10/30/2002

The U.S. Border Patrol issued new guidelines warning that illegal immigrants should not be transported for medical assistance even if they are in distress, the Tucson Citizen reported.

The guidelines say "transportation to local authorities or medical treatment should not be undertaken," even if an immigrant is in medical distress. Anyone encountering immigrants in trouble should call law enforcement or an ambulance, the patrol says.

Driving immigrants to a hospital or another location can be viewed as "illegal and can result in prosecution," the guidelines say. Humanitarian groups or others who provide such help would be subject to arrest, but the decision to prosecute would be made on a case-by-case basis, according to Border Patrol Spokesman Rob Daniels, speaking to the newspaper.

Tucson-based Samaritan Patrol this summer openly transported immigrants to hospitals and to Tucson's Southside Presbyterian Church. The Rev. John Fife, a leader of Samaritan Patrol and pastor of the church, said the organization will continue to transport illegal immigrants despite the threat of prosecution.