Sheriff Joe Arpaio is erecting dozens of crosses in the desert. The crosses mark the ground where illegal immigrants have died. The crosses are not memorials. Arpaio is trying to save lives.
Each cross represents one immigrant who died in the Arizona desert. The white crosses are numbered, and their location is recorded with GPS. Arpaio hopes the display will deter illegal crossing at the Mexico border.
As reported by ABC News, Arpaio is willing to erect thousands of crosses if it will make a difference:
“If we have to do 1,000 of these, or 5,000, we’ll do it,”
Illegal immigrants are often unprepared for desert conditions. The sheer size of the desert, combined with the extreme climate, can be deadly.
Many immigrants make the entire journey on foot. Carrying enough water and food for the trip is nearly impossible.
The travelers also lack shelter. During the day the heat is blistering. However at night, the desert can be bitterly cold.
Sheriff Joe hopes the display will deter immigrants from attempting the dangerous journey. The visual reminder could make more of an impact than other strategies.
As reported by USA Today, the crosses will also help authorities locate immigrants who call for help. Officers often receive distress calls from the desert.
Unfortunately, many callers have a hard time describing their location. There are few unique landmarks in the desert for reference.
Arpaio explains that the crosses are meant to save lives. He hopes that by deterring desert travel, and helping those in distress, fewer people will die.
In the last year, nearly 200 people died in the The U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson sector. Arpaio states that within the last week, four more bodies were found and two other people were rescued.
Arpaio explains that the rescue and recovery efforts cost the county a lot of time and money.
Sheriff Joe has a reputation for unconventional ideas. However, his newest project is meant to save lives.
[Image via Flickr]