Immigration

DPS Stops Refrigerated Truck With Produce and 97 Illegal Immigrants Chilling in 34 Degrees

When we read the headline to the latest news release from the Department of Public Safety, "Officer makes a traffic stop and discovers 97 undocumented aliens inside of a refrigerated commercial trailer," our first thought was -- good thing it was refrigerated, cause it's dang hot out.

Reading further though, it turns out the DPS meant really refrigerated. As in, a teeth-chattering 34 degrees. The smuggling load caught near Nogales contained a number of children aged 9 to 12. The DPS release quotes Matthew Allen, special agent in charge for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau's Phoenix investigation office:

These people were treated like cargo. They were crammed inside this truck and subjected to near freezing temperatures. Fortunately, due to the swift action of the law enforcement agencies involved in this case, none of these people came to any harm.

You can bet these folks weren't wearing heavy jackets, having likely spent a few days in the sweltering desert just before getting picked up. But they probably huddled together for warmth, and there was plenty of food to keep energy levels up.

Sure, if something went wrong with this plan, we'd be dealing with 97 icicles instead of live bodies. But it's a safe bet the undocumented residents were hoping their winter lasted just a bit longer...

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.