July 11, 2008

2008 Migrant Death Count

In a grim disclosure, Mexi-co’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) recently released its count of the number of Mexican migrants who died struggling to reach El Norte in 2008 so far. Until June 9, the SRE documented the deaths of 117 migrants who perished while attempting to cross the Mexico-US border.

According to the SRE, most of the deaths, or 72 to be precise, were registered in the state of Texas. The McAllen area of the Lone Star State proved to be the deadliest point for would-be border crossers, with 26 undocumented Mexicans losing their lives in the zone. Additionally, 14 migrants died in the El Paso area and 4 around Eagle Pass.

Nonetheless, the dangerous terrain surrounding Tucson, Arizona, was the deadliest single zone for migrants, claiming 40 lives during the first half of the year. The Arizona numbers suggest migrant deaths could be on a downswing in comparison to the last two years. Still, it’s important to note the reported deaths were registered before some of the hottest days of the year pound the border region.

The US Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector reported 204 migrant deaths during the 2007 fiscal year that ended on September 30 of last year. The death toll represented a 21 percent increase from fiscal year 2006, when 165 deaths were registered. However, the Tucson-based Human Rights Coalition reported a higher death toll for the region than did the Border Patrol.

The immigrant rights group cited 237 deaths for FY 2007, a number 32 higher than in FY 2006, when the coalition documented 205 deaths.

In 2007, 409 Mexican migrants died in the entire Mexi-co-US border region, according to the SRE. Official Mexican migrant death statistics for this year report most victims were individuals in the 18 to 45-year-old age category, with the death of one minor recorded.

Since 2001, the SRE has tallied the deaths of 2,956 Mexican migrants in the northern borderlands. The federal agen-cy has identified the main causes of death as dehydration (1062), drowning (583) and vehicle accidents (247). In terms of geographic origin, ill-fated migrants from the states of Mexico, Guanajuato and Mexico City topped the list of victims.

Reprinted from Frontera NorteSur an on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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