Humanitarian groups save lives in the desert - CBS 5 - KPHO

Humanitarian groups save lives in the desert

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ARIVACA, AZ (CBS5) -

As Karl Tucker drives his pickup truck loaded with water through the desert, he thinks about the moment more than 10 years ago, when he heard about 14 illegal immigrants dying of exposure in the Arizona desert.

"I'd never heard of people dying in the desert, unless it was some fool ran out of gas or something," said Tucker, who now volunteers for Humane Borders. The organization operates roughly 100 water stations in the desert between Tucson and Nogales.

On this day, a group of students from Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson is tagging along with Tucker to learn what it's like to service the water stations.

"We don't worry too much about the politics or what political arena you stand on, or your parents stand on, more so than nobody deserves to die in the desert because of thirst," said Father Rick Zamorano, who teaches at Salpointe.

When they reach the water station, the students see that someone used one of the barrels for target practice. It's peppered with bullet holes.

"That happened a lot in the early days," said Tucker.

The bullet holes are evidence that not everyone views what Humane Borders does as good deeds. Some believe the volunteers are aiding and abetting felons because they offer water to illegal immigrants.

To Tucker, there is no controversy over putting out water for people who need it.

"I think the one thing we do is save some lives. We don't know how many lives we save, but we know that somebody is using the water," said Tucker.

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