Migrant Deaths Ahead of Record Pace
By Arthur H. Rotstein
The Associated Press
September 14, 2007
Tucson, Ariz. - Deaths along much of the Arizona-Mexico border are ahead of
the record pace set two years ago despite tightened border security expected
to discourage migrants from crossing, a border county medical examiner said.
The office of Pima County medical examiner Dr. Bruce Parks, which performs
autopsies on many of the illegal immigrants who die in Arizona, has tallied
181 bodies or sets of remains recovered between Jan. 1 and Sept 8.
Last year, 148 bodies were recovered during that period. In 2005, officials
found 166 during that period.
Many of those victims will have died because of the heat, which regularly
exceeds 100 degrees during the hottest part of the Arizona summer. Much of
the Arizona border is the busiest illegal entry point on the U.S.-Mexico
"We still anticipate finding remains between now and the first of the
month," said the Rev. Robin Hoover, founder of the Tucson-based Humane
Borders group, which has had search parties out looking for bodies the last
"There's bodies out there that we know of that we just haven't found yet,"
Border Patrol statistics show a higher death toll, but the agency's count
for 2007 began with the start of the federal fiscal year on Oct. 1.
According to federal figures, 197 bodies or remains have been recovered in
Arizona's deserts through Aug. 31. In the year-earlier period, 200 were
"The patrol doesn't want to see any deaths," said Dove Haber, a spokeswoman
in the patrol's Tucson sector, which covers most of the Arizona border
except for an area around Yuma.
"Our ideal would be that there would be none. The positive is that our
rescue numbers are high."
Lloyd Easterling, a Border Patrol spokesman in Washington, said he believes
more skeletal remains are being found because the agency's ramp-up of
personnel and resources has more agents out patrolling remote, treacherous
Hoover said the Border Patrol's efforts to shut off migration have just
forced illegal immigrants to cross even more dangerous ground.
Easterling said the number of deaths across the entire Southwestern border
stood at 371 as of the end of August, compared to 442 two years ago. The
total for all of the 2005 fiscal year was a record 494.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
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