Since President Joe Biden weakened border protections put in place by his predecessor, the number of illegal immigrants who will die attempting to cross the southern border is expected to reach its highest level in U.S. history.
Although it is difficult to properly date and identify the remains of people discovered in the desert, experts believe 2020 was the deadliest year in the history of the southern border — until this year. Last year, Border Patrol agents found the remains of 253 people near the U.S.-Mexico border. This year through July, agents have already discovered 383 people — a 151% increase.
The number of deaths has increased across the entire flank of America’s nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico. In 12 southern Texas counties, the number of remains discovered nearly tripled this year, from 45 in all of 2020 to 128 by this June. In Arizona’s border sector, officials found 127 separate sets of human remains by this year’s midway point — more than in all of 2017.
Officials gave several reasons for the spike in the death toll. The sheer number of people making the dangerous journey has increased dramatically during 2021, especially since President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Every month of the Biden-Harris administration has seen an increase in the number of illegal immigrants, reaching historic levels. Some 212,672 people attempted to enter the U.S. illegally in July 2021, the second-highest number in U.S. history behind March 2000, when agents apprehended 220,063 illegal immigrants. In all, there have been a total of 1,331,822 encounters with illegal immigrants this fiscal year, which started in October 2020. The sheer increase in numbers means more people will die.
Gangs of human smugglers, or coyotes, have changed the way they lead caravans: Instead of having foot guides personally lead large groups of people through the desert, they now communicate via cell phone. Ambiguous or misunderstood instructions can cause people to get lost.
This summer’s high temperatures also claimed lives. The vast majority of deaths came from hyperthermia — commonly referred to as heat stroke — as well as dehydration, common symptoms of crossing the desert on summer days when the temperature frequently reached 110 degrees. Survivors have often been found “delirious” or wandering around in circles.
Human smugglers also abandon those who cannot keep up with the group or use children to distract Border Patrol agents while the rest of the party escapes. In June, agents found a five-year-old girl from Guatemala wandering alone near California’s Tijuana River.
Just attempting to save those attempting to enter the U.S. illegally is consuming a larger amount of federal agents’ time and U.S. taxpayers’ dollars. The Border Patrol has conducted 10,275 rescue missions this fiscal year — more than 2019 and 2020 combined, sometimes riding on horseback into the most remote parts of the desert. The situation has become so dire that 250 of the 3,700 Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector are EMTs or paramedics. That means roughly 7% of the workforce is dedicated to saving the lives of illegal aliens.
The number of illegal immigrants in danger also puts U.S. Border patrol agents’ lives at risk. “Each rescue means that someone almost died, and our agents risk themselves to save them,” Stephanie Anaya, Border Patrol Assistant Chief Patrol Agent with the Del Rio Sector, told San Antonio’s KENS5-TV. More than 9,800 employees of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have tested positive for COVID-19, and 35 have died since the beginning of the pandemic — “two in the last month,” according to the CBP.
Yet U.S. agents vow to redouble their efforts to save as many lives as possible. They plan to erect 48 rescue beacons near the border by October and have already set up nearly 1,000 emergency placards, which give migrants instructions on how to call 911, in the Rio Grande Valley alone.
And, most importantly, they’re telling would-be migrants not to come to the United States illegally, possibly losing their lives in the sands of Mexico, Texas, or Arizona. Del Rio Sector Border Patrol Chief Austin Skero, said, “That is the message to the undocumented migrant population, is: Don’t cross. It is not worth risking your life.”
“Speaking as a physician, there is a safer way to do it than coming across the border,” said Dr. Corinne Stern, a medical examiner in Webb County, Texas. “Even if you say to yourself, ‘It’s worth my life. I’m willing to risk my life,’ think about your family.”
Lax border enforcement policies, or political promises of citizenship and social welfare benefits, encourage people to make the deadly trek across the desert. Every inducement encourages migrants to pay human smugglers, potentially get sexually abused, and perhaps lose their lives en route to the United States. Lawmakers must never forget the very real, human toll of their “compassionate” promises to flout America’s immigration laws.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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