As border crossings along Arizona’s stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border decreased over the 2010 fiscal year (ending Sept. 30) it appears that deaths along the border actually increased.
Previously, the record number of deaths were the 237 in 2007, but in 2010 the new count brings the record to 252. Researchers believe the increase could be due to people crossing in more harsh areas than before due to increased border patrol, while last year’s record-breaking heat wave could have added to the number of deaths as well. Also, the increase in bodies found could simply be because there are more border patrol agents in the area so there are more people to find more bodies, and not necessarily more bodies to be found.
What adds to the problem are smugglers, looking to make money at all costs, taking people into harsher regions to avoid Border Patrol, but not properly explaining the risks to those they lead into the U.S., many times leaving the sick or weary that fail to keep up with the group.
While the number of deaths has increased, the total number of those apprehended while trying to cross appears to be dropping. In fiscal year 2000, 616,000 people were caught, while by 2009, the number had dropped to 241,000 a year.
Kat Rodriguez, of human rights group Coalición de Derechos Humanos, says people will continue to die until militarization of the area stops, and new policies are created on immigration.
University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute’s coordinator Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith claims an agreement benefiting both Mexico and the U.S. could stop the deaths and says, “It’s ridiculous that anybody has to die on that border…. We have to find some rational way to go about this. If they were able to sit down and negotiate NAFTA, they’re able to sit down and negotiate immigration.”