Humane Borders, a nonprofit that maps the recoveries of bodies in Arizona using data from the Pima county medical examiner’s office in Tucson, said 43 human remains of migrants were found across Arizona’s border with Mexico in June, reported the Associated Press (AP).
Of the 43, at least 16 bodies were recovered a day after their death, while 13 were dead for less than a week, Mike Kreyche, a mapping coordinator for Humane Borders, told AP.
Mr Kreyche said that in the first six months, 127 bodies were recovered from the region, 31 more than the corpses recovered in 2020 for the said period. This year’s death toll also surpasses the earlier figure of 2017 when 123 bodies were recovered along the Arizona-Mexico border.
Exposure has been listed as the most common cause of death among the bodies recovered from Arizona’s border with Mexico, approximately 400 miles long with a vast stretch of desert land.
“Due to the vastness of the territory and the millions of acres of desolate desert that migrants traverse, the sad reality is that a substantial percentage of human remains will never be recovered,” says the NGO on its website. They add that as of 31 December 2018, over 1,000 decedents remain unidentified.
Texas also reported an increase in the number of migrant deaths as state officials increase the number of rescue operations along its border with Mexico.
There were 36 migrant deaths in the first five months of this year, more than all the deaths reported in 2020, according to the AP report citing data from the Brooks County Sheriff’s Department in southern Texas.
The stretch was not always a graveyard. Fewer than five dead migrants were found in southern Arizona each year prior to 2000, according to a report by USA Today.
Numbers began to rise in 2001 as illegal immigration from Mexico to the US increased. With heightened border security in California and Texas, an increasing number of migrants are now forced to move through Arizona’s treacherous terrain to seek sanctuary, said the APreport.
The increase in the recorded deaths come as the western states endure dangerously high temperatures this summer.
An estimate of about 200 people – mostly homeless, sick and old – died this month in Oregon and Washington.
According to a recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US recorded its hottest June in 127 years. The average June temperature across the country was 72.6F, about 4.2 degrees above normal, said the report.
To add to worries, soaring temperatures have fanned wildfires across large swathes of the US.
Firefighters battled at least 55 large fires across the country on Sunday, with 11 occurring in Arizona alone. The scale of the wildfires is so large that at least 768,000 acres of land in 12 western US states and more than 500,000 acres in Canada were burning as of Sunday.