TIJUANA (Border Report) — Last year became the deadliest for people trying to cross the border into the United States, with 555 perishing along waterways, deserts or while being trafficked in trucks or shipping containers.
“These are deaths registered by the Border Patrol,” said José Luis Pérez Canchola, head of Mexico’s Human Rights Academy.
He added that on a daily basis, there are trailers hauling migrants throughout Mexico like the one in which 53 migrants died after being trapped in San Antonio.
“This is also due to police corruption that allows this type of phenomenon to exist,” said Pérez Canchola. “The biggest risk for migrants is falling in the hands of organized crime that goes well beyond human trafficking that are tied to drug smuggling.”
Pérez Canchola stated that more and more, drug cartels have been turning their attention to human trafficking, charging smugglers hefty fees for the rights to move migrants around Mexico, along the border and into the U.S.
“What happened in Texas is a reflection of this trend we’ve suggested since the start of these caravans,” he said. “That (cartels give) them permission to work in Mexico as they head north across the country, this way they don’t have to deal with criminal organizations.”
“… It’s newsworthy because of the number of people involved,” Pérez Canchola said. “But this happens all the time, it’s recurring, bodies frequently are found along the Rio Grande, in the deserts, migrants die due to heat stroke, in the mountains, it’s common for migrants to die after being bitten by rattlesnakes.”
Statistics provided by Pérez Canchola and Mexico’s Human Rights Academy don’t coincide with figures provided by the International Organization for Migration, which is part of the United Nations.
It says “at least 650 migrants died while crossing the United States-Mexico border in 2021.”
Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. also tracks migrant deaths along the southern border.
“The border is more closed down now than almost any time in history,” Allison Norris, the supervising attorney for immigration legal services for the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNN. “This has led folks to increasingly seek out smugglers and engage in more dangerous ways of getting across the border.”
Official numbers from CBP show there were 557 deaths recorded along the border during its fiscal 2021 year, up from 254 deaths in 2020 and 300 in 2019.
CBP also reports Border Patrol agents conducted 12,854 rescues in fiscal year 2021.
The previous high for migrant rescues was 5,335 in 2019