NEW MILITARY THREAT: ILLEGALS
April 13, 2005
Virtually every Marine squadron headed to Iraq or Afghanistan receives combat training at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, which for nearly 40 miles touches the U.S.-Mexico border in the southwestern corner of Arizona. The Border Patrol's focus in recent years on tightening the border in the eastern part of the state, where volunteer citizens this month have established their own observation posts, has pushed more undocumented immigrants westward.
- Since July 2004, the training range has been shut down more than 500 times because of immigrants spotted on the range, causing a loss of more than 1,100 training hours; that's equivalent to almost 46 days of training
- Base personnel detain the immigrants and call in Border Patrol agents to pick them up; Marines intercepted more than 1,500 undocumented immigrants on the training range last year and, in the first three months of this year, more than 1,100.
Another big concern is the potential danger to undocumented immigrants:
- The Marines don't want them to come here, because they're firing lasers, shooting machine guns, shooting 209-millimeter cannons and dropping practice bombs.
- Last summer a Marine pilot dropped a practice bomb on a target and seconds later, a few feet away, a small group of illegal immigrants scrambled from underneath a bush and ran down the range; the near miss was caught on a training tape.
So far the Marines say there have been no deaths of immigrants in the training exercises, however, any moment taken away from a Marine's experience base could cost him his life in combat, says Colonel James J. Cooney, the base's commanding officer.
Source: Karen Schaler, "Border crossings hinder training at Ariz. basesIllegal immigrants found on test range," Boston Globe, April 7, 2005.
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