‘Mass disaster’ grows at the U.S.-Mexico border, but Washington doesn’t seem to care

Posted on 02. Jan, 2018 by in Action Alerts

Taken from azcentral.com –

Across sandy Texas scrubland, along swift-moving California canals, in searing Arizona deserts and within remote New Mexico canyons, the bodies of hundreds of immigrants who died illegally crossing the southwestern border with Mexico are found each year.

Border Patrol agents encounter some of the dead, and count them in the agency’s annual report that constitutes the only official reckoning of the death toll.

But an investigation by the USA TODAY NETWORK has found many migrant deaths are never accounted for — including when bodies are discovered by sheriff’s deputies, police, ranchers, hikers and humanitarian groups.

Illegal crossings along the southwestern border have claimed 7,209 lives over the past 20 years, according to official Border Patrol statistics, but the actual number is far higher.

A USA TODAY NETWORK investigation found federal authorities largely fail to count border crossers when their remains are recovered by local authorities, and even local counts are often incomplete.

Network reporters spent nine months attempting to build the most complete count ever of border-crosser deaths in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas from 2012 to 2016, to reveal how many are missed. That effort found many more deaths than the Border Patrol’s official number. In three of those states, the USA TODAY NETWORK found anywhere from 25 percent to nearly 300 percent more migrant deaths over five years.

But a complete accounting proved elusive. Why? Because many local authorities responsible for investigating deaths on or near the border don’t track border-crosser deaths.

Information on migrant deaths in Texas is incomplete or unavailable in many counties, so the true number is even higher than the USA TODAY NETWORK’s count. What’s more, the investigation found no central governmental, academic or non-profit entity that tracks all border deaths, beyond those encountered by the Border Patrol.

In an attempt to count all migrant deaths since 2012, the network requested information from more than 35 medical examiners, counties, sheriff’s offices and justices of the peace.

This under-reporting occurs in each of the four states that border Mexico. But it is acute in Texas, where a spike in immigrants without documentation and families fleeing poverty and violence in Central America has caused border-crosser deaths to soar in recent years. In Brooks County, Texas, the bodies of unidentified border crossers were, until a few years ago, buried in mass graves. Some other Texas counties continue to bury unknown migrants in unmarked graves.

Read more here

No comments.

Leave a Reply