Crossing the border gets deadlier

  • A man attempts to cross the Tijuana-San Diego border amid crosses memorializing those who have died here.

    Tomas Castelazo, cc via wikipedia

Between October 2011 and September 2012, 463 people died in the desert after slipping across the U.S.-Mexico border – the most since 2005, when about three times as many entered the country illegally. Today, migrants are eight times more likely to die than a decade ago, according to the National Foundation for American Policy. Most used to cross near San Diego, or other border cities. But in the late 1990s, when the feds stepped up enforcement there, migrants began more dangerous treks across Arizona's remote Sonoran Desert, where heat exhaustion killed hundreds. Now, the pattern is shifting again. More migrants are Central American and take freight trains up Mexico's Gulf Coast, entering through south Texas. By the time they arrive, many have traveled for over a month under rugged conditions and are already weakened when they reach the desert. Increased legal avenues into the U.S. for low-skilled immigrants, such as temporary work visas, might ease the situation, but others argue tougher enforcement is the way to reduce border deaths.

Deb Dedon
Deb Dedon Subscriber
Jul 02, 2013 04:22 PM
Education might be a way to reduce border deaths. Are the survivors silent, those who saw their friends or loved ones die from the relentless, heartless heat? I sometimes wonder if our southern neighbors are complicit if they don't publicize the grim results of the desert's heat.

Or are the smugglers too persuasive? Who tells these folks that they can cross the desert safely? Follow the money, I suppose.
Jesse Kolar
Jesse Kolar Subscriber
Jul 03, 2013 01:46 PM
When I was in Central America, I saw that the daily wages for rural farm workers (called 'musos' in Honduras) were around $4-6/day. Most have access to TV and see (therefore want) the latest cellphones, tablets, computers, cameras, etc..., which cost half a year's wages. So if an immigrant returns to the country with all those things, a house paid off and property purchased, nothing they say will deter a young person with no financial future from yearning to work in the land of plenty. I heard many say of the hike across the desert, "Fue tremendo," and they'd shake their heads and become silent at the recollection. But then their iPhone would ring, and they'd take the opportunity to change the topic.

No matter what is said to deter someone from making the dangerous 'camino,' and despite the number of immigrants deported without receiving their wages (and losing the ~$15,000+ cost of paying 'coyotes' to guide them across the border), young people will "hear" the iPhone ring and see authentic Levi's and yearn for the fancy houses purchased by the returned immigrants.

IMHO, People will strive unto death as long as the grass is greener.