Migrant Deaths near U.S. Border Up 180 Percent over Past 5 Years

Border Patrol Agents and Brooks County Sheriff's Office Deputies recover the body of an illegal immigrant in Brooks County. (File Photo: Bob Price/Breitbart Texas)
File Photo: Bob Price/Breitbart Texas

The number of migrants who died after illegally crossing the border from Mexico to the U.S. since 2014 rose by nearly 180 percent. So far this year, 260 lost their lives near the U.S-Mexico Border–mostly during or shortly after their crossings.

At least 260 migrants died this year along the U.S. southwest border between January 1 and August 22, according to the Missing Migrant Project. This represents an increase of 180 percent when comparing year-to-date deaths from 2014. Since that time, the number of deaths increased each year despite varying rates of apprehensions by Border Patrol agents.

During the same period in 2014, the Missing Migrant Project reports that 93 migrants died after or during illegal border crossings. Some of these are from drownings in the Rio Grande River while others occur when migrants are abandoned without food or water by human smugglers. Additionally, others were killed in smuggling incidents when packed into cars, SUVs, trucks, and tractor-trailers in extreme heat or cold.

In 2015, the number of deaths during the same period rose to at least 129 — a 39 percent increase. The number of reported deaths increased again in 2016 to 237 and then to 237 during the same period in 2017. The apprehension of illegal immigrants along the southwest border fell dramatically in 2016 and parts of 2017, according to reports from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Despite the decreased levels of border crossings, the number of deaths rose dramatically.

The numbers reflected in the Missing Migrant Project’s reports only include deaths confirmed by the recovery of the deceased’s body or remains. Many missing migrants are never found.

Of the 260 known deaths this year, nearly two-thirds (162) were in Texas. Of those, half were found in the Rio Grande Valley Sector (34 in Brooks County alone).

Photos recently released to Breitbart Texas by the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office in Falfurrias, Texas, tell the graphic story of what remains after illegal immigrants are abandoned by human smugglers to die.

“What happens to these people is horrible,” Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez told Breitbart Texas in a phone interview. “These photos represent what our deputies see when they are called out by Border Patrol agents and ranchers to recover the decomposing bodies or skeletal remains of people who experience frightening and often painful deaths after being abandoned by human smugglers.”

In Brooks County, Sheriff Martinez is once again faced with increasing numbers of dead migrants and people continue to march through his county.

“They just keep coming,” the frustrated sheriff said. “As long as the federal government fails to secure the border, they will keep coming — and they will keep dying.”

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier’s office is also impacted by the deaths and subsequent recovery of remains.

“Open borders policies are not compassionate public policy,” Sheriff Napier told Breitbart Texas during a phone interview in March. “When we passively encourage illegal border crossing we are creating a human rights tragedy. These migrants are victimized repeatedly by bandits, human smuggling coyotes, and the harsh elements of this region.”

“Securing the border will prevent deaths and criminal victimization of border crossers,” Napier explained. “Securing the border is, in fact, compassionate public policy.”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.


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