CBS 5 News was invited along on a first ever tour of Border Patrol's BORSTAR unit.
"The BORSTAR unit is a highly specialized team that's trained in a lot of different disciplines related to search and rescue," said Supervisor Gerardo Carrasco.
"It definitely adds a different side to being a border patrol agent, doing this job," said Supervisor Julie Gallagher.
This job isn't what typically comes to mind when you think of the United States Border Patrol. They're usually the ones busting the bad guys in the desert, not rescuing them. But Border Patrol's BORSTAR unit does a little bit of both.
"We work law enforcement just as hard as we work our rescues," Gallagher said.
Gallagher know firsthand it isn't just criminals crossing the border, there are women and children.
"There's certain calls that you never forget and they just stay in your mind," she said.
There are people looking for a better life who find out too late how difficult the journey can be.
"In an environment where there is very little water and you don't have help get to you within a few hours, you're not going to last very long out there," Carrasco said.
CBS 5 News was invited to ride along on a rescue. It's a mission in the Green Valley area with an added challenge.
"We have monsoons coming in from the south and we have some to the north and we've already gone through four or five washes that will be actively running, so we're going to be working a little bit against time," Gallagher said.
The typically dry desert is being bombarded by monsoons, meaning if we don't complete our rescue quickly, we might not complete it at all.
The agents have to get to there fast. The caller is dehydrated and claims he's close to death. We follow behind on what Gallagher considers a road. To us it's a series of washes on a bumpy dirt path, washes that make everyone worried as the rain keeps coming down.
"These are some big washes. We're not going to be getting by if they start running," Gallagher said.
We reach our destination and meet Ezequiel, a 20-year-old who went to high school in Arizona, then got deported back to Mexico.
"The state where I was living in, it's not a good state. It's full of violence and stuff," Ezequiel said.
It's been four days since Ezequiel left Veracruz, Mexico. He's been walking in the desert ever since.
"I just felt really dehydrated, didn't have any water. I still have food but I can't swallow anything so I just feel really dehydrated," he said.
And then there's the blister the size of a sand dollar on the sole of his left foot.
"That's why I stopped because I couldn't walk anymore. That's why I just slept under the tree," Ezequiel said.
It took hours after calling 911 for help to arrive. Once Ezequiel can travel, he'll be shipped right back across the border.
"I'll just do it legally now. I'm not going to do it again like this," he said.
BORSTAR agents said summer is their busiest time for rescues because of the extreme weather conditions but that they work the fine line between rescuing and arresting suspected illegal immigrants all year long.
Copyright 2012 KPHO(Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Sunday, May 19 2013 1:50 AM EDT2013-05-19 05:50:15 GMT
A 23-year-old firefighter is in surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. Officials told CBS 5 he is in extremely critical condition after being crushed between two fire vehicles. The firefighter wasMore >
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Thursday, May 16 2013 8:01 PM EDT2013-05-17 00:01:44 GMT
Rozenna Luna (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
A mother has been taken into police custody after police say she tried to give away her 6-month-old daughter at a Phoenix gas station. Sgt. Tommy Thompson with the Phoenix Police Department said investigatorsMore >
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Sunday, May 19 2013 1:01 AM EDT2013-05-19 05:01:02 GMT
Crash victim Juan Rodriguez with his fiance Amanda Lujan.
You hear a lot about deadly accidents involving motorcycles A Valley couple wants to share their story in hopes drivers will pay more attention to bikers on the road. "The fourth of July, Juan proposed,More >
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Saturday, May 18 2013 11:06 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:06:03 GMT
The mayor of Phoenix is calling Groceries for Guns the largest buyback program in state history. In fact, Greg Stanton said nearly 2,000 guns are now off the street and unable to fall into the hands ofMore >
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Friday, May 17 2013 7:16 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:16:53 GMT
One person has died in a crash near Harrisonville, MO, Thursday evening. The crash happened on Missouri Highway 7 and Walker Road. It involved a car and a tractor-trailer. Harrisonville is in Cass County.More >
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Friday, May 17 2013 11:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:49:34 GMT
Everyone wants the right to make their own choices when it comes to their healthcare, but a group of valley midwives says that isn't happening thanks to a new set of guidelines that will likely take effectMore >
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