Exclusive: Arizona Border Sector Becomes Deadliest Crossing Point for Migrants

El Paso Sector agents rescue a dehydrated migrant after he illegally crossed the border be
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Border Patrol/El Paso Sector

LUKEVILLE, Arizona — The Arizona desert is becoming a deathtrap for many migrants journeying into the United States. The Tucson Sector has the dubious distinction of being the deadliest in the nation for migrants crossing the border from Mexico.

As temperatures along the border in Arizona rise at daybreak, migrant groups are steadily making their way into Lukeville, Arizona. For many, their surrender to Border Patrol agents marks the end of their journey to reach the United States — for others who choose to avoid capture, the Arizona desert is becoming a deathtrap. Migrant deaths in the Tucson Border Patrol Sector this year rose by more than 167 percent compared to last year.

Migrant encounters in the sector have also risen by more than 160 percent, maintaining the ratio between those who cross and those who perish in the harsh environment. According to a source within Customs and Border Protection (CBP), during August, twenty-four deceased migrants were recovered by Border Patrol agents across the Tucson Sector. That number is up from the nine deceased migrants the agency recovered in August 2022.

Emergency potable watering station for migrants left by humanitarian organization. (Randy Clark/Breitbart Texas)

Emergency potable watering station for migrants left by a humanitarian organization. (Randy Clark/Breitbart Texas)

The sector led all others for deceased migrant recoveries for August. Since October, CBP recovered more than 150 deceased migrants in the remote desert areas within the sector. Most succumbed to heat-related injuries.

The migrant death reports do not include those whose bodies were recovered by other law enforcement agencies further inland from the border area and do not involve CBP personnel or resources in the recovery. According to the source, this means the actual death count is higher than the statistics reported by CBP.

The source says the deaths usually involve migrants who cross into the United States in more remote areas of the desert and high mountain areas within the Tucson Sector. This category includes migrants from Mexico or other countries who likely face expulsion if apprehended. According to the source, this makes rescue and recovery even more difficult.

“They willingly choose to cross away from the beaten path, often attempting to traverse difficult terrain when temperatures are at their highest,” the source added. “Most do not realize how much water needs to be consumed to survive in this harsh environment,” the source added.

In August, Border Patrol Agents in the Tucson sector apprehended nearly 49,000 migrants, according to unofficial reports reviewed by Breitbart Texas. The number is a more than 160 percent jump from the 18,506 apprehended in August of 2022. The source believes many more migrants may have perished that have yet to be discovered, adding, “Sometimes we just find bones because they have been out there so long.”

In 2022, a study by the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) declared the United States-Mexico land border to be the most dangerous land crossing in the world. U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 800 deaths during the year. The designation by the IOM is likely to remain unchanged when the total of migrant deaths on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border is finalized for 2023.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.


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