Fewer People Crossing, but Deaths on Border Increasing

Despite a 50 percent drop over the past two years in the number of people caught illegally entering the United States from Mexico, the number of those who died while trying to cross the border increased this year and is the highest since 2006, according to new U.S. data and a study by human rights groups in both countries.


The American Civil Liberties Union and Mexico's human rights agency allege that consistently high numbers of border deaths -- hovering around 350 to 500 a year, depending on which government's figures are used -- are a predictable but largely unrecognized result of border security policies.

"Border deaths have increased despite the economic downturn, fewer migrant crossers, and a steady drop in apprehensions," Mexico's National Human Rights Commission and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties in California say in a report set for release Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post. The rising fatality rates "signal an escalating humanitarian crisis that is not going away and requires more effective governmental responses," the groups say.

The findings come as immigrants' advocates increase pressure on Washington to overhaul immigration policies. The administration has signaled its willingness to consider measures that would increase the flow of legal workers and to legalize many of those already here, which some analysts say could reduce illegal crossings.

Until Congress acts, however, the ACLU and Mexico's commission, known by its Spanish acronym CNDH, recommend that both countries prioritize reducing border deaths in bilateral talks, shift border patrol resources to search and rescue, and allow humanitarian groups to do relief work in border areas. The groups also urge that both countries set up a joint 911-type missing persons system run by a non-governmental organization, standardize data collection on deaths and invite international involvement.

Read the entire article at WashingtonPost.com.

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