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Report Shows Increase in Migrant Remains in Southern Arizona

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The Binational Migration Institute at the University of Arizona released a new report earlier this month that finds that deaths during migration in southern Arizona have remained high despite the overall decrease in unauthorized migrant flows, reflecting that the journey across southern Arizona has become increasingly deadly for migrants since the early 2000s.

The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME) PCOME investigates all unattended deaths in southern Arizona and handles more cases of undocumented border crossers than any other agency in the country and their analysis of remains sheds light on who these migrants are and what they have endured.  

The report shows that the demographic characteristics of the deceased have changed over the past two decades. Between 2000 and 2005, only about 9% of all unauthorized border crossers identified by the PCOME were non-Mexican (mostly all Central Americans). By the 2006 to 2012 time period, that share nearly doubled to 17%.  Also, the report shows that fewer women are crossing and dying today than during the 2000—2005 time period.  Between 2000 and 2005, about 23% of unauthorized border crossing deaths were of women, compared to 16% during the current time period (2006—2012). These figures correspond with a decrease in U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions of women over the past several years.

As detailed in the report, the high number of migrant remains examined by PCOME is not simply a consequence of more migrants crossing southern Arizona; rather, migrants are crossing for longer periods of time through more remote areas to avoid detection by U.S. authorities, increasing the possibility of death.  Intensified enforcement efforts across the border have redirected the migration flow into the most remote, hot, and dry regions of the desert borderlands, increasing the risk of death associated with unauthorized border crossings.  The funnel effect has made the Tucson Sector the single most traversed crossing corridor for migrants along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

To read the full report, click here