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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    Border Crossing Deaths Set a 12-Month Record

    www.latimes.com

    Border Crossing Deaths Set a 12-Month Record
    By Richard Marosi
    Times Staff Writer

    October 1, 2005

    TUCSON â€
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  2. #2
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    www.sfgate.com

    NATION
    Record number died crossing border in '05
    Remote routes, hot summer, economic upturn called factors

    Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Saturday, October 1, 2005


    More people died trying to enter the United States illegally this year than at any time since the Border Patrol began counting in 1998: 460, almost 40 percent more than last year, according to a preliminary tally.

    As the Border Patrol increased its presence along the Arizona border, where most illegal immigrants have been attempting to cross from Mexico in recent years, smugglers apparently marched their charges on longer treks to more remote areas of the desert during a summer when the heat was even higher than usual, Border Patrol officials said.

    "These are human lives, people that have families and loved ones," said Mario Villarreal, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C. "Our front line Border Patrol agents have rescued over 2,500 migrants along the southwest border. If we had not intervened, the death count could be much higher."

    On a typical day, agents arrest 3,500 people, he said, for a total of almost 1.2 million arrests in fiscal 2005, which ended Friday.

    Villareal attributed the spike in fatalities to this summer's heat -- with temperatures 3 to 12 degrees higher than normal, he said -- and to unscrupulous smugglers who do not prepare migrants for the conditions they will face.

    "In the summer you cannot humanly carry enough water to make this trek," he said.

    But some analysts say that the Border Patrol's own strategy over the past decade of closing off easier crossing points near urban areas such as San Diego, El Paso and Douglas, Ariz., is partly responsible.

    "We keep ratcheting up the enforcement in areas that were previously safe, and it's pushing the traffic into more dangerous areas all along the border," said Professor Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego.

    Others say the federal government could save lives if it dramatically increased border enforcement. Tim Donnelly, leader of the Minuteman Corps of California, wants to see 10,000 more Border Patrol agents on the job by the end of next year, a near doubling of the current force.

    The Border Patrol's budget was $1.4 billion in fiscal 2005, more than triple its spending in 1995.

    "Secure the border for the sake of all Americans, especially those who live right on the border, and for the sake of these desperate people who are trying to cross," Donnelly said. "It is unacceptable for 460 people to die coming here to be somebody's slave. I'm correlating (the deaths) directly to the people who are inviting them, the employers who want cheap, unregulated, subsidized labor."

    In an effort to gain control of the Arizona border, the government has added 500 new agents there in the past six months and has doubled the number of aircraft it is using, said Villareal.

    Villareal emphasized that protecting U.S. borders was the Border Patrol's top job. However, he said, the Border Patrol is also working on a safety campaign, including public service announcements to warn Mexicans of the danger of crossing the border.

    On Monday, a 24-year-old woman died in the desert south of Dateland, Ariz., her 3-year-old daughter, who was suffering heat exhaustion, curled up beside her.

    The child was saved -- along with her father, sister, and 19 other would-be immigrants abandoned by their guide after a 70-mile hike in 105-degree heat -- when a signal fire the group lit was spotted by a Border Patrol pilot, officials said. The situation has become tragically common.

    The Mexican government keeps its own tally of migrant fatalities and recorded 384 deaths between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15 of this year, surpassing the 373 who died in all of 2004.

    The latest casualties bring to 3,600 the death toll along the border since 1994, according to the Mexican count, which includes deaths in Mexico and in the Rio Grande. Later this month, the Border Patrol will release its official count of deaths, rescues and arrests from Oct. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, 2005.

    The rate of illegal immigration, which had slackened slightly with the downturn in the U.S. economy beginning in 2001, picked up again 2004, according to a study released this week by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington. An estimated 562,000 people entered the U.S. illegally through all means in 2004.

    In the past two years, for the first time, more unauthorized migrants entered the country than legal immigrants, the study found.

    The number of people being granted permanent residence -- "green cards" -- fell between 1999 and 2003, in part because applications are being processed more slowly in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which led to huge backlogs, said Pew center Director Roberto Suro. An upturn in the economy attracted more illegal immigrants last year, he said.

    "The labor force numbers for 2004 show very strong employment of recently arrived immigrants in low-wage, low-skill sectors," he said. "All the other factors that have contributed to sustained high levels of undocumented immigration in the last few years continue to be there."

    Several proposals in Congress that would create temporary worker visas could help take the pressure off the border, said Cornelius, the UC San Diego professor. But more important are a crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants and -- over the long term -- an investment in job creation in Mexico, he said.

    At the Pima County medical examiner's office in Tucson, handling the remains of migrants who perish in the desert, performing autopsies on them and trying to identify them now occupies about 15 percent of the staff's time, said Dr. Eric Peters, the deputy chief medical examiner.

    "It was a nonexistent problem five or six years ago," he said. "Now, it's to the point where we just assume it's part of our daily workload, because we don't really foresee any change in this problem, unless I-don't-know-what is done."
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    www.signonsandiego.com



    460 border crossers died in past year


    Posters on fence tell of 3,600 found dead in 11 years

    By Leslie Berestein
    UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
    October 1, 2005


    PLAYAS DE TIJUANA – Juan Gabriel Castellanos lingered for several minutes yesterday morning where the border fence runs into the ocean, pacing the sand as he scanned four newly hung posters attached to the fence on the Mexican side.
    The posters listed the names of migrants found dead along the U.S.-Mexico border in the past 11 years.

    "I'm looking for the name of my friend," said Castellanos, 32, a native of the state of Nayarit who now lives in Tijuana. "He left Nayarit 15 years ago. He never called. I've always wondered if he's OK."

    He didn't find his childhood friend Federico listed. But he knows that out ofthe roughly 3,600 people estimated to have died crossing the border illegally since early 1995 about a third have not been identified.

    The posters on the Tijuana beach were hung by human rights advocates yesterday in observance of what Border Patrol officials say has been the deadliest year on record along the Southwest border.

    From Oct. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, the close of the 2005 federal fiscal year, 460 people are known to have died while trying to cross the border illegally. That far exceeds the previous record of 383 in fiscal 2000. The 2005 death toll also is expected to rise after final numbers are tallied, Border Patrol officials said.

    More than half the deaths in 2005 have occurred in Arizona. This is where the brunt of human-smuggling traffic shifted after Operation Gatekeeper, a 1994 federal border enforcement strategy along the urban San Diego border. It pushed the smuggling traffic that had primarily come through San Diego east into the mountains and deserts.

    While southern Arizona has seen mounting deaths as human smuggling has continued shifting east, higher-than-average temperatures this summer made the situation worse.

    "The month of July was absolutely unseasonably hot along the Southwest border, especially in the desert in Arizona," said Border Patrol spokesman Mario Villarreal. "Temperatures routinely exceeded 110 degrees during the month of July. . . . You cannot humanly carry enough water to make the trek in Arizona."

    Temperatures elsewhere along the border also have been higher than normal, including in Texas, where deaths have increased, Villarreal said.

    In Arizona, the Pima County coroner's office, which handles cases from the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, was forced for the first time to rent a refrigerated truck to store bodies that could not be accommodated inside its facility.

    The record death toll comes as the federal government has been repatriating people caught crossing illegally in southern Arizona to Mexico City to prevent them from crossing again. Approximately 20,300 people have been flown there since June 10 as part of an interior repatriation program that ended yesterday.

    Rescues have also been on the rise: 2,569 migrants were rescued by Border Patrol agents in 2005 compared with 1,347 in fiscal 2004.

    Earlier this week, agents rescued a group of 23 people left stranded by their smuggler without water south of Dateland, Ariz., near Yuma. One woman was dead by the time help arrived. Her 3-year-old daughter was found curled up next to her, going into shock.

    "It shouldn't surprise anyone that in spite of redoubling search-and-rescue efforts, the deaths are soaring," said Claudia Smith of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

    "They are pushing people into more remote areas where the chances of being rescued are minimal," said Smith, who helped organize the memorial at the fence. "All they have accomplished 11 years later is the shifting of undocumented traffic from densely populated areas to the most remote areas."

    Apprehensions of illegal border crossers are up slightly over fiscal 2004.

    Most of the growth has occurred in the Border Patrol's Yuma sector, where apprehensions are up 41 percent, and in the El Paso sector, which encompasses New Mexico. Apprehensions there are up 17 percent.

    Villarreal said smuggling traffic has been diverted to these two regions after additional border enforcement was added in the Tucson sector, where apprehensions are down 11 percent. Deaths have risen in all three areas.

    The San Diego sector, where apprehensions are down 9 percent from fiscal 2004, has one of the lowest death counts. Twenty-two deaths were recorded for 2005, only one of them heat-related.
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