msnbc News | May 26, 2010
>> than 4,000 people have died trying to cross the border since 1998 . each year, thousands risk capture, arrest and death for a chance to work and live in the united states . janet shamblin has the story about one of the deadliest crosses into the country.
>> the all- american canal carries water from the colorado river to san diego and the agricultural rich imperial valley . and yet this lifeline is among the deadliest bodies of water in the united states .
>> it's been drowning innocent people for the last 40 years.
>> many are illegal immigrants who lose their lives while trying to cross.
>> a person tries to climb the bank. he'll be trying and scraping to get up and he won't make any progress.
>> it's a tough sell. even by its own account, the imperial irrigation district which manages this canal has been dragging its feet.
>> i would concede that two years is too long and that at some point, you have to install the safety measures and start saving lives.
>> the district has launched a campaign to warn people of the dangers. many of those who lose their lives in the all- american canal are never identified and their families may believe that they found work in the u.s., which often they end up here. it's a paw per's cemetery in the california desert full of unmarked graves . others are known. this was our last kid.
>> stephanie martinez lost her husband, sergio .
>> i loved him very deeply. he was my soul mate .
>> stephanie and sergio , who is in the u.s. legally, had a baby and he was deported after a traffic stop the desperate to return to his family, sergio drown in the canal.
>> if you know that there is 500 human beings , no matter what they look like and they die in a canal, wouldn't you make a few buoys in there? it's not that hard to make.
>> critics say additional ladders and buoys could encourage even more people who risk their lives.
>> it's not about immigration. it's about why would you let innocent people drown?
>> it's a waterway caught in