Migrants die on Mexican border

An unauthorized migrant drowned in a border canal in El Paso, Texas, on June 27 after a US Border Patrol agent trying to rescue him was hit in the head with a rock thrown by a suspected smuggler, Border Patrol officials said. The agent, who was not identified, fired at least one shot at the suspected smuggler and at another would-be immigrant, who fled back into Mexico, Border Patrol spokesperson Patrick Berry said. It was unclear how many shots the agent fired or whether either of the fleeing men were hit by bullets. The drowned man’s body was found in the canal more than four miles east of where the agents saw him go under the water, Berry said. The shooting is under investigation; it was the third involving a Border Patrol agent in the El Paso area this year. (AP, June 27)

On June 25, Border Patrol agents found the body of a possible unauthorized migrant in the Altar Valley southwest of Tucson. It was the 11th body found over a 12-day period. Agents found six bodies from June 18 to 22. From the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 to June 26, there were 109 known deaths of border crossers in the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, compared with 116 the same time last year. (Arizona Daily Star, June 27)

From June 29 through the morning of July 2, Border Patrol Tucson Sector officials confirmed the deaths of two migrant women, and the discovery of skeletal remains of a third presumed migrant whose sex could not be determined. Daily temperatures have been exceeding 100 degrees in the area; most of the deaths appear to be heat-related. (ADS, July 3) On the afternoon of July 2, Border Patrol agents found the body of a 26-year-old Mexican woman about 60 miles southwest of Tucson on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. A search for a missing companion was unsuccessful. The woman was the 16th border crosser whose remains had been found over the past 18 days. (ADS, July 4) On July 4 a badly decomposed body–presumed to be another border crosser–was found in the Altar Valley. (ADS, July 6)

On June 26, two suspected unauthorized migrants were killed after the driver of a pickup truck fleeing the Border Patrol swerved into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into another vehicle on a winding, rural road near Ocotillo, about 70 miles east of San Diego in southern California. Authorities said the pickup carried eight suspected unauthorized migrants from Mexico, including the man and woman who died. Several other people were seriously injured in the crash, including two people in the other vehicle. The Border Patrol said agents used spike strips in an unsuccessful attempt to puncture the pickup’s tires, and halted their pursuit of the pickup after reaching the speed limit of 55 miles per hour. Agents said they later spotted a plume of smoke several miles away and found the pickup in flames on a two-lane road. But Pablo Arnaud, Mexico’s consul in Calexico, said survivors told Mexican officials that a green and white vehicle–the Border Patrol’s colors–pursued the truck until the crash. According to Arnaud, the driver ignored the passengers’ pleas to slow down. The driver suffered moderate injuries and will be charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. (AP, June 27)

From Immigration News Briefs, July 7

See our last posts on the immigration crackdown and the struggle for the border.