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US--Mexico border is now the deadliest in the world with 686 dead and more missing

 September 13, 2023

The U.S.--Mexico border has earned an unfortunate distinction by becoming the deadliest terrestrial migratory pathway globally, with hundreds of individuals losing their lives or disappearing during their risky journeys.

Last year's data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) notes 686 casualties and disappearances in the U.S.--Mexico border zone. However, this count might be understated due to gaps in data collection, as the Daily Mail reported.

Across migration routes in the Americas, 1,457 deaths were recorded in 2022. This number represents the highest recorded death toll since the IOM began its documentation in 2014.

The regional distribution of these tragic incidents revealed 566 fatalities in North America, 483 in Central America, 58 in South America, and a noteworthy 350 in the Caribbean.

Causes and Concerns

The predominant reasons for these devastating losses,  according to the report, arise from limited options for lawful and safe migration.

This limitation pushes many towards dangerous and irregular paths that expose them to life-threatening risks. The natural hazards of the border region, characterized by vast deserts and treacherous terrains, are particularly perilous.

The scorching summer heat and freezing winter temperatures pose significant threats, often leading to heat stroke and hypothermia. Many who succumb to these elements remain undiscovered.

Paul Dillon, an IOM, emphasized that the current statistics "represent the lowest estimates available."

Most of the deaths last year were associated with crossing challenging areas such as the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.

Dillon also highlighted the increased fatalities on Caribbean migration routes, with a documented rise from 245 in 2021 to 350 in 2022. Most victims here hailed from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba.

Other Migration Hotspots

Another focal point of concern is the Darien Gap, a dense jungle separating Panama and Colombia. In 2022, this location reported 141 migrant deaths. Due to its remote nature and the presence of criminal factions, the actual number of casualties could be much higher than documented.

The report underscores the urgent need for better data collection and, crucially, the creation of safer, more accessible migration routes.

The Missing Migrants Project has been vocal about the growing crisis, urging nations to acknowledge and address this burgeoning humanitarian emergency.

Recent U.S. Border Activity

The U.S. Border Patrol experienced a significant surge in activity this past August. A record 91,000 migrants, mainly families, were apprehended crossing the border, marking a 30% increase for two consecutive months.

For the first time during President Joe Biden's term, family groups outpaced single adults in terms of recorded crossings, posing challenges to new measures implemented by the administration to curb illegal migration.

This surpasses the earlier one-month record of 84,486 from May 2019, set during Donald Trump's administration, as the Washington Post reported.

Images from August depicted distressing scenes at the border, with families, including of some infants, endeavoring to make their way across treacherous terrains and waterways. Border Patrol's data showed that August saw over 177,000 detentions, an increase from 132,652 in July and 99,539 in June.