Deadly crossing

by Denver Nicks

The number of people entering the U.S. illegally has plummeted by nearly half since 2007, but 2010 promises to be one of the deadliest years on record for undocumented migrants.

The group Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, which keeps count of those who die crossing into Arizona from Mexico, says 236 bodies have been found this year -- so far. That’s second only to 2004-'05, when 282 were found.

The increase is likely due to heightened enforcement and a revised strategy. In 1994, the Border Patrol began channeling the flow of illegal migrants out of cities and into more rugged, dangerous terrain, in order to discourage the practice.

To avoid new fencing and even more Border Patrol agents, migrants have taken to crossing one of the most forbidding landscapes on Earth, the southern Arizona desert between I-19 and Yuma. They die of heat and cold, dehydration, wildlife attacks, car accidents -- even suicide. And more agents mean that more bodies are found, some of them those of people who died years ago. Denver Nicks

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