Photo: Arizona-Mexico border
Deaths of undocumented immigrants in the Arizona desert are down 36 percent in the 2013 fiscal year, the U.S. Border Patrol said.
From Oct. 1 through May 1, 64 migrants died while trying to sneak across the border into the United States, down from 101 during the same period of fiscal 2012, according to official figures.
“The deaths have gone down, but as temperatures begin to rise in the desert, the dangers increase,” Andres Adame, spokesman for the Border Patrol Tucson Sector, told Efe.
The most recent fatality was last Saturday.
Border Patrol agents responded to a call about someone’s being lost in the desert near the village of Tres Puntos. When they reached the scene, they found one migrant alive and another, dead.
The survivor told the agents that the other man had fallen ill and been abandoned by the “coyote” they paid to guide them across the desert.
Agents in the Tucson Sector, which includes 90 percent of the Arizona-Mexico border, have carried out 203 successful rescues in the desert so far in fiscal 2013, 27 more than at the same point in fiscal 2012, when the number of rescues reached a record 634.
“That tells us this summer could be terrible for the migrants,” Adame said.
Daytime temperatures in the Arizona desert are already hovering around 100 F.
Heat, however, is not the only danger.
“We have seen an increase in the number of cases of robbery, of women raped,” Adame said, attributing the phenomenon to a takeover of migrant smuggling by organized crime.
Formerly, he said, most “coyotes” were men and women who lived in the border region.
“The dad, the mom and the kids dedicated themselves to the business of bringing immigrants across. Everybody was involved, it was a family business. But later we see a change when the drug cartels got involved,” Adame said.
For the cartels, migrants are merchandise, not human beings, he said.
Instead of men “making a little money for their families,” the coyotes are now “criminals who make a lot of money,” Adame said.