Eastern California, Part 1
California's border with Mexico is defended by
two USBP sectors, San Diego and El Centro.
The El Centro sector is based in El Centro, California,
and is responsible for protecting nearly as much land as the country
of Belgium. El Centro sector covers both Riverside and Imperial
counties of Calfiornia. It has Border Patrol stations in the border
city of Calexico and in the county seat of El Centro some ten
miles to the north. It also has two more distant stations, one
in Riverside, California and another in the very small hamlet
In addition to the USBP sector headquarters,
the Immigration and Customs operates an immigrant holding facility
adjacent to the older 1111 North Imperial Avenue USBP site.
This part of the California border area is desert
and agricultural land. Thanks to the Imperial Irrigation District
canal, billions of gallons of water are available to turn the
desert into verdant farmland.
The border itself includes very mountainous terrain
as well as flat desert and a major waterway --
the IID canal.
The canal acts as a substantial physical barrier
to illegal entry into the United States. While there are even
3,000 miles of canals and feeder canals in the IID system, for
about 81 miles the main supply canal slowly meanders from the
eastern California state line abutting Arizona state line at Yuma,
Arizona and to the west and beyond the city of El Centro.
The canal is nearly impossible to cross. While
the currents seem not that swift, in fact the water moves about
as fast as a man can run. The water temperature offers traumatic
chilling to the human body and so falling down the steep sides
of the canal into the water means a very difficult -- if impossible
The temperature of the water in the canal causes
the rescue personnel great difficulties. In warmer water, a drowning
victim will sink and then as the gasses of putrifaction begin
to build, the body will rise to the surface. The body floats like
Cold water slows the process of putrifaction
and so bodies can remain hidden from view for weeks. Often the
victims will finally be pushed downstream some miles and into
the steel protective grates. There it will be discovered and retrieved.
Here is one of the massive gates releasing billions
of gallons of fresh water into the farm fields of the Imperial