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Feds try to make U.S.-Mexico border less enticing to cross

Border fence
The federal government is using a more proactive tactic than in previous times to stop the flow of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

Since last year, agents in Arizona have called Mexican and Central American television and radio stations and newspapers, asking for the opportunity to tell of the dangers of crossing illegally, particularly through the Sonoran Desert.

The outreach was initially greeted with skepticism but is now being embraced.

Newspapers in the Mexican states of Chiapas and Michoacan have run stories based on their accounts. Outlets in El Salvador and Guatemala have followed suit. Some ran photos provided by the Border Patrol of packed safe houses and emergency rescues.

"Immigrants are mistreated, assaulted, lied to, made fun of and women are often raped," was the lead to one story in El Diario de Hoy, a daily newspaper in El Salvador.

The efforts are considered successful enough that the agents expanded them to U.S. cities with large immigrant communities, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, Seattle and Atlanta.

The goal on this side of the border is to persuade residents to warn family members back home about treacherous conditions, particularly along the Arizona border, agents said.

What effect the public relations effort will have on migrants is unclear. The number of apprehensions at the border is already down dramatically. There were 340,000 last year, compared with 1.6 million in 2000, a drop many experts attribute to fewer migrants attempting to cross.

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-- Paloma Esquivel

Photo: Overlooking the border fence with Mexico, U.S. Army National Guardsman Pfc. Philip Moore, 28, rests in Nogales, Ariz., during a "down time" shift. The Border Patrol is asking Mexican and Central American TV and radio stations and newspapers for the opportunity to tell of the dangers to migrants of crossing illegally. Credit: John Moore / Getty Images.

 
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