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More people dying during border crossings, showing increasing danger, study says

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Posted at 10:15 AM, Apr 19, 2021

Dangers at the United States-Mexico border have continued to increase, leading to more deaths of undocumented immigrants, according to a new study from the University of Arizona and Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner.

According to the study, which is unique to Pima County and not widely available from other border areas, researchers found the remains of at least 3,356 undocumented border crossers from 1990 to 2020.

The study shows the number has "increased substantially" since 2000, and the "increase has coincided with intensified enforcement along the US-México border, further supporting previous studies that have asserted that border militarization redistributed migration into remote areas like desolate regions of southern Arizona, resulting in increased risk of death."

Records from the medical examiner show that of the migrants whose bodies have been recovered, 84% are men, 82% between the age of 20-49, and 80% are from Mexico. Their deaths were 48% due to undetermined causes and 38% due to exposure. Sixty-four percent of the migrants were identified after death.

Data shows fewer women are being recovered, but more Central Americans are being recovered.

"The general increase in recovered UBC (undocumented border crossers) remains is not a consequence of more migrants crossing through southern Arizona, the researchers said. In fact, U.S. Border Patrol apprehension data indicate a steady decrease in apprehen­sions over the past two decades in the Tucson Sector," a press release states.

"Our hope is that policymakers and the public will consider the data presented in this report, as access to empirical evidence is crucial when formulating public policy and when addressing the root causes of critical social concerns such as border-crosser deaths along the US-Mexico border," the study says.

See the full study and data here.