Pastor-led group seeks missing migrants in border desert

IRONWOOD FOREST NATIONAL MONUMENT, Arizona (AP) — After strapping on knee-high snake guards and bowing his head to invoke God’s protection, Óscar Andrade marched off into a

remote desert at dawn on a recent Sunday to look for a Honduran migrant. His family said he had gone missing in late July “between the two hills where the backpacks

are.” The Tucson-based Pentecostal pastor bushwhacked for three hours in heat that rose above 100 degrees (38 Celsius), detouring around a mountain lion, two rattlesnakes

and at least one scorpion before taking a short break to call the aunt of another missing man. Andrade believed he found the young man’s skull the previous day. “Much

strength, my dear sister,” Andrade told her, while she repeated incredulously that the “guide” had assured her he left the young man with injured feet but alive. “Sometimes we

don’t understand, but there is a reason that God allowed this. And if you need anything, we’re here.” On the fourth search for that 25-year-old man from the Mexican state

of Guerrero, the pastor and his Capellanes del Desierto (Desert Chaplains) rescue and recovery group had found his ID card in a wallet 40 feet (12 meters) away from a skull and

other bones, picked clean by animals and the relentless sun in the Tohono O’odham Reservation. Since March, Andrade has received more than 400 calls from families in Mexico

and Central America whose relatives – sick, injured or exhausted – were left behind by smugglers in the borderlands.