Nearly 400 Migrants Died Crossing Unsecured U.S. Border in 2018

Cindy Vanessa Mendez kneels over her father's body. Omar Mendez Perez died after being left behind by human smugglers after he fell ill and was unable to keep up. (Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office)
File Photo: Brooks County Sheriff's Office/Deputy Elias Pompa

Nearly 400 migrants lost their lives while or shortly after crossing the U.S. border with Mexico. More than half died in Texas.

In 2018, at least 376 died while crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S. or shortly thereafter, according to the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrant Project. Due to the partial shutdown of the U.S. government, the organization has not updated the numbers since December 21.

The organization reported the deaths of 214 men, 20 women, and four children. In addition, 138 sets of remains could not be identified by age or sex.

Of the reported 376 migrant deaths, more than 230 occurred in Texas, Breitbart News reported. Forty-eight of those occurred in Brooks County alone, which is located about 80 miles north of the Texas-Mexico border.

An exact number of migrant deaths is not known because many deceased migrants are never found.

With the exception of the two Guatemalan children who died recently after crossing the border into New Mexico, the deaths of the other 374 migrants drew little attention from U.S. media.

One reason for the high number of deaths is the massive increase in family units crossing remote areas of the U.S.-Mexico Border, particularly in the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the exponential increases are pushing the system to a “breaking point.”

“Smugglers, traffickers, and their own parents put these minors at risk by embarking on the dangerous and arduous journey north,” Secretary Nielsen stated. “This crisis is exacerbated by the increase in persons who are entering our custody suffering from severe respiratory illnesses or exhibit some other illness upon apprehension.”

“Given the remote locations of their illegal crossing and the lack of resources,” the secretary continued, “it is even more difficult for our personnel to be first responders.”

Nielsen blamed the massive increase in migrant crossings, particularly family units and unaccompanied minors, on several “draw factors.” Among those, she listed:

  • an immigration system that rewards parents for sending their children across the border alone,

  • a system that prevents parents who bring their children on a dangerous and illegal journey from facing consequences for their actions,

  • an asylum process that is not able to quickly help those who qualify for asylum,

  • a system that encourages fraudulent claims, and a system that encourages bad actors to coach aliens into making frivolous claims.

“The bottom line is that 9 out 10 asylum claims are rejected by a federal immigration judge,” Secretary Nielsen stated.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan blamed Congress for failing to take action to secure the border and fix broken laws that act as magnets for these families and minors.

“This is why I asked [Congress] to change our laws so that the United States is not incentivizing families to take this dangerous path,” he said.

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

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