Watching for Immigrants Off California's Coast

As the U.S. cracks down on its southern border, the Pacific has become an attractive route for human smugglers. A cat-and-mouse game on the high seas

Todd Bigelow / Aurora for TIME

As dawn breaks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents end their night patrol off the California coast.

Boat capsized. Twenty-five passengers, fully clothed, flailing in the surf. Hypothermia setting in." Ed Vodrazka, 50, has a feeling he'll be hearing that call come in over the radio any day now. As a lieutenant lifeguard, Vodrazka, who lives near Torrey Pines Beach, about 17 miles (27 km) north of San Diego, would be the first to respond. But would the victims — illegal immigrants from Mexico who pay $4,000 each to get to American shores — accept his help? "They've just spent their life savings to get to the free world," he says. "They're scared people who are desperate and...

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