To curb the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico crossing into the US, border patrols have been intensified, increased and militarized. While border patrol personnel have almost doubled over the years. The measures have been successful, with the illegal crossings and the number of arrests reducing to an all-time 50-year low.

This success has also created another challenge; more daring illegal immigrants, resulting in more deaths. With almost all of the illegal border crossings now sealed off, Mexicans trying to enter the US have now been pushed into a dangerous and hostile territory, the desert.

The crossings through the harsh desert have often turned deadly, with 151 people losing their lives in 2016 alone, according to the UN's migration agency.

Arivaca town

Hardly a week passes by before residents of the Small dusty town of Arivaca in Arizona, situated 11 miles from the US-Mexico border, come across an illegal immigrant on the brink of death, owing to the desert crossing. Some even knock on doors begging for water and food.

Most of Arivaca's 695 population consists of retirees and ranchers, including 65-year-old Leesa Jacobson, who decided to set up a humanitarian aid initiative, 'People Helping People' for the illegal immigrants. The aim is to prevent the deaths that have now become common due to the increased desert crossing attempts.

Jacobson, who spoke to The Huffington Post, observed that their beautiful desert neighborhood was slowly transforming into a graveyard. Together with other retirees, Jacobson formed an aid organization that provides food, water, and medical supplies to dehydrated, starving and injured illegal immigrants.

Aid to immigrants

Jacobson believes humanitarian aid is not a crime, yet, and she has set up an office in the town to house her organization, Arivaca Humanitarian Aid.

The suffering illegal immigrants are nursed back to health here until they are strong enough to proceed with their journey.

The office was set up after Jacobson, who is an ordained Lutheran pastor but no longer practicing, realized some residents thought that helping an illegal immigrant was a crime.

Her organization, which has a few volunteers, has mapped out the most dangerous routes used by the immigrants, and often leave tanks of water along the way to prevent deaths from dehydration.

She also maps out every location where dead bodies of immigrants are found.

For her troubles, she has received numerous threats and fears that one day, her aid organization might be firebombed. But that has not deterred the retired Librarian, from saving the lives of illegal immigrants.