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Activist offers GPS 'life preservers' for illegal migrants crossing US-Mexican border

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A human-rights activist is banking on technology and the good will of those who smuggle migrants across the US-Mexico border to save lives during Arizona’s searing summer.

The Rev. Robin Hoover is working to put GPS devices in the hands of smugglers, known as coyotes, so that they can alert search and rescue if trouble arises as they journey north with their human cargo through an unforgiving desert.

“It’s like giving a life preserver to somebody that’s using a boat,” the reverend says.

The US Border Patrol has a different view of Mr. Hoover’s unorthodox plan. Instead of saving lives, the cell phone-sized devices can give migrants a false sense of security that encourages them to take on the risks of traversing the harsh desert terrain, says Steven Adkison, a Border Patrol spokesman.

“The best way to save lives is to discourage anyone from attempting the difficult trek in the first place,” he adds.

Even as the number of border crossings declines, scores of migrants continue to perish each year as they attempt to cross the Arizona desert. Most die from heat-related causes during the summer months. During the past decade, authorities have recovered some 2,000 bodies in the desert.

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