Local news

Four will be returned to Mexico

TUESDAY, SEPT. 15, 2009

Four Mexican nationals who were rescued by helicopter last week from a remote region near the border of Washington state and British Columbia entered the country illegally and will be sent back to their home country.

Two men, a woman and a 5-year-old boy were rescued after calling 911 and reporting they were lost, Danielle Suarez of the U.S. Border Patrol said. They were found the next day, evacuated by a search and rescue helicopter, and hospitalized briefly in Tonasket for dehydration and exposure before being taken to Seattle in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The four had been in Canada for more than a month and didn’t have a good explanation for how they were in the U.S., Suarez said. They claimed they had been hiking and became lost.

“That area is not an area where people would go hiking or go camping. The story just doesn’t add up,” she said, adding that none of the four had legal documents for entering the country.

None was dressed for spending any time outside in rugged country in the Cascades, officials said.

The area has seen an increase in smuggling of illegal immigrants and will get a closer look after this incident, Suarez said. Smugglers often drop people off in remote areas, telling them their destination is just a couple hours or a short walk away, she said. The immigrants are often unprepared for the distances, terrain or weather they experience.

One of the men had previously been arrested as an illegal immigrant and deported, Suarez said. The other man has had some past contact with immigration officials but hasn’t been deported. The woman, who is married to the man previously deported, and the child, who is their son, have no prior contact with immigration officials.

The woman and boy are returning voluntarily to Mexico. The two men will be sent back through the deportation process.

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