Desert Deaths Soar Among Arizona Immigrants

Heat wave, crackdown blamed for death spike
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2010 4:02 AM CDT
A solar-powered warning beacon placed in the desert so that illegal immigrants in distress could call for help sits a few miles from the Mexican border near Sasabe, Arizona.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The Arizona morgue in Pima County is overflowing with bodies that will probably never be identified. The bodies of 57 suspected illegal immigrants found dead in the desert have been brought in so far this month, the highest number in 5 years. "We keep hoping we have seen the worst of this, of these migration deaths," the county medical examiner tells the New York Times. "Yet we still see a lot of remains.” The morgue handles bodies from Tucson and the surrounding deserts.

A record-breaking heatwave may account for many of the desert deaths, but human rights advocates say tougher immigration enforcement is also to blame, as it pushes migrants trying to enter the US into more desolate areas where they need to walk for days to find a road. "As we gain more control, the smugglers are taking people out to even more remote areas,” a said a Border Patrol official. “They have further to walk and they are less prepared for the journey, and they don’t make it.”

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