Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Number of Undocumented Migrant Deaths Mount on Arizona Border

Number of Undocumented Migrant Deaths Mount on Arizona Border

By Maria Leon

TUCSON, Arizona – The number of deaths of undocumented immigrants in the Arizona desert increased by 20 percent during the 2009 fiscal year, despite extreme vigilance and the efforts of humanitarian organizations.

Since Oct. 1, 2008 until Aug. 31 this year, 191 undocumented immigrants have died, mostly Mexicans, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.

Last year during the same period, 159 deaths were reported.

“I’m sure that once all the deaths in September are added up, we will easily show more than 200 fatalities,” Rev. Robin Hoover, founder and director of Compassionate Borders, a group that every week puts water in the desert for illegal aliens, told Efe.

“In the past few years an average of 180 undocumented immigrants have died each year in the Arizona desert. Again this year we see the percentage of deaths on the rise,” said Hoover, who Sunday led a ceremony in Tucson in remembrance of the victims.

During the religious service, the names of each of the dead was read, while members of the congregation carried white crosses. Victims who could not be identified were simply referred to as “unknown.”

“In 1995 no deaths of undocumented immigrants were reported, and now we’re getting close to 200 or maybe more,” the minister said.

In his opinion, the deaths of illegal aliens are directly related to the aggressive Border Patrol strategy that obliges immigrants to cross at places farther out in the desert.

“This strategy is designed to cause more deaths,” Hoover said.

The activist said that while the Border Patrol has reported a decrease in the number of people crossing the border illegally, the percentage of deaths has significantly increased.

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