Migrant activists lament record number of US-Mexico border deaths in 2022
By Manuel Ayala
Tijuana, Mexico, Nov 4 (EFE).- A record total of at least 853 undocumented migrants died while trying to enter the United States from Mexico in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2022, civil organizations said Friday, citing US Border Patrol figures.
That tally, which only includes migrants identified or processed in the US and leaves out those who died on Mexico’s side of the border, far exceeds the 546 fatalities registered in Fiscal Year 2021.
The official information states that many of the migrants drowned in the Rio Grande, which serves as a natural border between the US state of Texas and the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas.
Others perished due to high temperatures in the desert, while still more have fallen from walls the US has erected along some stretches of the border.
Jose Maria Garcia Lara, director of the Movimiento Juventud 2000 shelter in the northwestern Mexican border city of Tijuana, told Efe that the situation is “very regrettable” and that the deaths rise in tandem with a tightening of border restrictions.
“It’s alarming because … there are a lot of missing persons” who die on mountainsides, the desert or in the ocean and whose bodies are never recovered, he said, adding that he believes the number of those unregistered deaths is “even larger.”
Imposing more rules and laws that restrict the arrival of migrants is counter-productive and leads to these fatalities, said the activist, who called instead on US authorities to consider the root causes of migration.
“Mechanisms should be created to support these communities,” Garcia Lara said, adding that work visas issued to migrants by Mexico and other countries are a key first step but that more must be done in the coming year to “avoid these risks for the entire migrant community.”
Paulina Olvera Cañez, the director of the Espacio Migrante shelter in Tijuana, said border security measures implemented by the US and Mexico result in migrants opting for “more dangerous routes, and that leads to more deaths.”
“Since 1994, when the United States implemented a prevention-through-deterrence policy by building a wall (in certain locations) and forced people to cross through the desert … there have been thousands of deaths,” she said.
That situation was exacerbated “when Donald Trump made the walls higher.”
The activist added that the Mexican government also is partially responsible, noting that “people can’t move freely even if they have a document, they can’t ride in buses … and have to resort to coyotes (people traffickers).”
Olvera Cañez said the dangerous consequences of these border-security policies were evident when 53 migrants were found dead in an overheated trailer near San Antonio, Texas, in June.
The region is experiencing a record flow of migrants trying to make their way to the US, whose Customs and Border Protection agency intercepted more than 2.76 million undocumented migrants in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2022.
Between US President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021 and the end of September 2022, more than 3.89 million migrants have been detained at the border, according to figures from the TResearch International consulting firm.
That figure exceeds the total for the equivalent periods of the presidencies of Trump and Barack Obama. EFE