SEATTLE — Illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border is a recurring issue for both countries that has been taking place for decades. The border is 1,951 miles long from California to Texas. Even though security measures on the border within the last 10 years have been amplified, Latin Americans are risking their lives every day by taking extreme measures to make better lives for themselves. This begs the question: how many U.S.-Mexico border deaths are there every year?
Since 1998, about 6,000 bodies have been found on the U.S. and Mexico border. U.S. border security measures have increased to secure parts of the border where the most traffic occurs. Driven by desperation, Latin Americans have opted to hike through the desolate parts of the border. The 47-mile desert and mountain trek through the least secure part of the border is dangerous for any human being.
2010 was one of the most gruesome years for U.S. and Mexico border deaths with a total of 223 bodies found, and 99 bodies found in the summer months of June, July and August alone. Over the years, the number of bodies has increased. Brookes County, Texas is witness to a large number of deaths every year. In 2013, 43 percent of bodies found in the rural town went unidentified, and 16 percent were determined to be from Mexico. Immigrant deaths also include people from other Latin American countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
The elements play a significant role in U.S.-Mexico border deaths. Border crossers face hardships when they decide to walk through the desolate deserts and mountains along the U.S. and Mexico border, where temperatures can reach 111 degrees in the summer months. The extreme heat not only dehydrates people with no access to water but other elements such as rain and desert animals and insects are hazardous distractions that border crossers face every day.
On Jan. 25, 2017, five days after his inauguration, President Trump announced and signed his executive order to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. With the buzz surrounding the executive order in the days following, the wall is estimated to cost between $15-25 billion. President Trump’s executive order came as a response to tensions on the U.S. and Mexico border. His campaign promise was for the U.S. to “get back control of its borders.”
In addition to the cost of building the wall, there will also be an annual cost of $750 million for maintenance. Department of Homeland Security Chief John Kelly was quoted saying, “a physical border will not do the job- if you build a wall you have to back up the wall.” Could President Trump’s wall help stop the increase of U.S.-Mexico border deaths? Only time will tell.
– Maria Rodriguez