Border crossing death rate remains high

According to the Huffington Post, border crossing deaths remain common although illegal immigration has declined markedly over the past five years. Border Patrol officials say that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues its efforts to secure the border and prevent deaths in the area. However, CBP annual reports illustrate that while illegal immigration experienced a nearly 62 percent drop in the 2011 fiscal year, the proportion of border crossing fatalities to border crossing apprehensions has risen.

Human rights organizations attribute deaths to the increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border and the absence of policy addressing the root social and economic causes of illegal immigration. While the data illustrates that illegal border crossings have become less common, they have also become more dangerous.

According to Kerry Rogers, spokeswoman for the Border Patrol, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection has more than doubled the size of border control since 2004,” even though immigration from Mexico to the U.S. reached a standstill in 2005. “Taken as a whole, the additional manpower, technology, and resources provided in the last six years represent the most serious and sustained action to secure our border in our nation’s history. And it is clear from every key measure that this approach is working.”

Increased border monitoring and historic deportation rates have prompted migrants to take riskier routes across the border, said Isabel Garcia, co-chair and founder of the Tucson-based Coalición de Derechos Humanos. “We never thought that we’d be in the business of helping to identify remains like in a war zone, and here we are,” said Garcia.

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