According to the U.S. Border Patrol, the remains of 191 people have been found along the Arizona-Mexico border in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Arizona human rights groups are working to prevent deaths by placing water in the desert and providing medical assistance and food to migrants.
Nearly half of the reported deaths take place in the Tohono O’odham Nation, an Indian reservation that shares over 70 miles of barren desert border with Mexico. Unfortunately for human rights advocates and migrants, the tribal government has directed the Tohono O’odham Police Department to remove any water left on reservation lands. Frustrated local advocates are now calling for more support from federal immigration authorities and the Tohono O’odhami tribal government in order to curb the death rate.
Human rights organizations from the Pima County Forensic Science Center in Tuscon determined the predominant causes of death to be hypothermia, dehydration, or exposure. Half a dozen bodies have also had gunshot wounds. Many migrants consume the water they carry with them before they reach the border, and are forced to make the remaining 20-30 mile walk to the border without any means of hydration. Local advocates work to prevent this outcome by filling barrels at a water station located 10 yards south of the border. Although the station is visible to Border Patrol agents, many desperate migrants use them anyway.