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Migrant Deaths at US-Mexico Border Are on the Rise: UN

More people have died crossing the border from Mexico to enter the United States in the first seven months of 2017 compared to the year before, even as crossings appear to have dropped sharply, the U.N.’s migration agency said Friday.

The International Organization of Migration counted 232 migrant deaths through the end of July, a 17 percent jump from 204 a year earlier.

July saw the highest number of deaths of any month this year, with 50 bodies discovered, including 10 discovered in a truck in San Antonio, Texas, the migration agency said.

Meanwhile, U.S. authorities said they have denied entry 140,000 times during the first half of the year, barely half of last year’s count, giving a rough sense of how sharply crossings have dropped this year.

Based on figures from U.S. county medical examiners, sheriff’s offices and media reports from the Mexican side of the border, the U.N. agency’s tally is higher than that from the U.S. Border Patrol.

During the first seven months of the year, Border Patrol has counted 156 deaths on the Mexican border, down 19 percent from 193 during the same period of 2016.

The U.N. report said the higher toll could not be fully explained. It made no reference to President Donald Trump’s calls for tighter border controls, but cited factors like hot weather and swelling Rio Grande waters. Historically, stricter immigration policies in the United States have driven people to take more dangerous routes. 

Thousands have died crossing the border since the mid-1990s, when heightened enforcement in San Diego, Calif. and El Paso, Texas pushed traffic into Arizona’s remote, scorching deserts.

In recent years, South Texas has become the busiest corridor for crossings and also the most deadly.

U.S. Border Patrol reported 80 deaths in its Rio Grande Valley sector and 64 in its Laredo sector — both in South Texas — and 49 in its Tucson, Arizona sector for the first seven months of the year.

  • Countries: Latin America