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25 migrants rescued from Yuma canal show change in border crossings, advocates say

25 migrants were pulled from a canal in Yuma over the weekend after a deputy saw them jump in.

YUMA, Ariz. — A sheriff’s deputy in Yuma helped pull 25 migrants out of the canal over the weekend, according to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office.

The deputy and a Border Patrol agent helped pull them from the water after the deputy said he saw them having a hard time staying afloat after jumping in and swimming.

The sheriff’s office released an edited video of the deputy pulling some people out of the canal, and advocates say it reveals part of the state of migration into the United States

Families migrating

Children were seen in the video of those pulled from the canal by the deputy.

“I think the thing that stood out to me the most is how small the children were,” Juanita Molina, executive director of Border Action Network said.

Molina said migration has changed from adult single men to people seeking asylum and families, including children. 

“That's where we're seeing the severity of this crisis, and the potentially lethal consequences for the vulnerable populations who are crossing right now,” Molina said.

RELATED: 25 migrants pulled from canal in Yuma

‘We’d rather die trying’

Molina said people making their way to the United States are growing more desperate and willing to chance the tough terrain to make it into the country.

“What we hear over and over again when we speak to migrants who have crossed is even though these are very dangerous circumstances, it's always the same answer: ‘We'd rather die trying,” Molina said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Molina says groups of people crossing are becoming smaller all while navigating the desert, mountains, even bodies of water to get to the U.S.

“Especially in the Tucson sector, what you have are a series of people that are receiving radio or cell phone instructions to cross,” Molina said. “And so people are using physical markers and having somebody direct them over a phone or a walkie-talkie to tell them where to go.”

Molina said by the time migrants make it to the U.S. it’s after weeks or even months of walking.

“People are in such desperate situations in their own countries,” Molina said. “Spanning everything from you know, the economic issues that literally people are starving in their villages, to lack of work, to cartel violence.”

RELATED: Survivors recall horror of Mexico truck crash that killed 55

‘We can’t underestimate this’

The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office said there were no major injuries reported among the group that was pulled out of the canal and were processed by Border Patrol agents. 

Molina said change is needed to address the changing migration into America.

“We need to adjust our systems in order to accommodate the current need and human rights crisis,” Molina said.

Molina said it’s not just the volume of people coming, but the different needs they have based on the different populations crossing into the U.S.

“We can’t underestimate this,” Molina said.

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