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Archive for Saturday, April 7, 2001

Immigrants surrender when caught in snowstorm

April 7, 2001

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More than 400 undocumented immigrants were forced to turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents after being caught in a sudden, winterlike storm while crossing the Arizona desert, U.S. officials said Friday.

Five people were taken by helicopter and ambulance to Tucson hospitals with symptoms that included hypothermia.

Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, said that a middle school was converted into a makeshift shelter in Sells, 30 miles north of the border. The town is on the Tohono O'odham Indian reservation, about one hour's drive southwest of Tucson.

The reservation, which abuts the Mexican border, has become a favored route among undocumented immigrants skirting a buildup of border agents to the west in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Officials said migrants began seeking out border agents late Thursday after the storm hit Arizona with high winds, rain and, in some spots, snow. Temperatures dipped into the 30s.

More than 100 agents searched for the stranded.

A similar episode occurred in that area last year.

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