Border deaths hit all-time high

A heat wave with high temperatures peaking at 120 degrees Fahrenheit has led to a record number of deaths of migrants crossing into the US through Arizona. The US Border Patrol reports that at least 229 immigrants have died in Arizona so far in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, a 57% increase over the previous year’s total. The large number of deaths has forced the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office to use a refrigerated trailer as a temporary morgue to handle the overflow of bodies. The morgue has a capacity of 120 bodies. The trailer can hold 60 to 70 bodies, depending on whether remains are intact or skeletal. (Arizona Daily Star, Tucson; Reuters, Sept. 1)

Mario Villarreal, a spokesperson for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Washington, said on Sept. 1 that a total of 415 people had died crossing the US-Mexico border since Oct. 1, 2004. Villarreal said 240 of the deaths were in Arizona. The highest previous number of border deaths was 383, in 2000. (North County Times, Sept. 1)

From Aug. 1 to 15, authorities recorded 17 deaths of people crossing into the US. Most of the deaths took place in Arizona. (Latin America Working Group, Aug. 16)

From Immigration News Briefs, Sept. 3

See our last report on the border crisis.