The number of deaths among undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. through the Arizona desert increased 20% during fiscal year 2009, Spanish-language wire Agencia EFE reported.
From Oct. 1, 2008 to Aug. 31 this year, 191 migrants died, EFE said. Most of them were Mexicans.
The total for the same period between 2007 and 2008 was 159 deaths.
The data comes from the latest report by the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, which covers most of the state and 262 border miles. This district is “the busiest sector in the country in both illegal alien apprehensions and marijuana seizures,” according to its website.
Pro-immigrant activists in Arizona say they expect even more deaths when the month of September is added to the statistics.
“I’m sure that once all September deaths are accounted for, we will easily top more than 200 deaths,” Rev. Robin Hoover, president emeritus of Humane Borders, told EFE. The group says it has placed over 100 water stations in the desert to help migrants crossing the desert on foot. (For which 13 activists are going to trial for littering in November.)
The increase in deaths comes as the number of people apprehended while crossing the border illegally has decreased over 25%, as NPR reported earlier this month.
NPR’s Ted Robbins wrote,
“No one knows whether the decrease in crossers is due to the recession keeping people home, the thousands of new border patrol agents or the more than 600 miles of new border fence that has been built.
“But what is clear is that over the past decade, easier places to cross have been closed, so people are being pushed into isolated areas.”