The Mexican staging area for illegal aliens that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson demanded this week be bulldozed is among hundreds of similar sites along the border sponsored and maintained by the Mexican government.
Many of the sites are marked with blue flags and pennants to signal that water is available. Others, such as the Las Chepas site that Mr. Richardson denounced, are a collection of old, mostly abandoned buildings or ranch houses where illegals gather for water and other supplies—sometimes bartering with smugglers, or “coyotes,” for passage north.
Las Chepas, law-enforcement authorities said, also is a center for drug smugglers looking to move marijuana and cocaine into the United States.
Rafael Laveaga, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, yesterday said his government “has a duty and obligation by law to protect Mexican citizens at home and abroad.”
Many of the Mexican aid stations are maintained by Grupo Beta, a Mexican government-funded humanitarian organization founded in the early 1990s. Driving through the desert regions south of the border in brightly painted orange trucks, Grupo Beta’s job is to protect migrants along the border, not arrest them.
In April, Grupo Beta worked with the Mexican military and the Sonora State Preventive Police to move would-be illegal aliens out of the desert areas just south of the U.S. border to locations east and west of Naco, Ariz., to avoid the Minuteman Project volunteers holding a vigil on the border.
Aid stations for illegal aliens also exist in the United States, many of them established and supplied by various humanitarian organizations such as Humane Borders, a Tucson faith-based group that targets illegal aliens who the organization said might otherwise die in the desert.
Humane Borders, established in 2001, has 70 water stations along the U.S. side of the border, each with two 50-gallon tanks next to a 30-foot-mast with a blue flag.