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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA: Border deaths due to security

    National attempts to tighten Mexican border security in urban areas has created a “”funnel effect,”” leaving illegal immigrants with remote, difficult terrain as their only option and resulting in more border deaths, according to UA researchers.

    A report compiled by the UA’s Binational Migration Institute found that the number of illegal border-crosser deaths increased six-fold since the 1990s.

    “”The evidence that we brought forth is the only empirical evidence,”” said Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, coordinator of the Binational Migration Institute. “”This coincides with an increase in enforcement of immigration law … Funneling people through more dangerous places does not mean that less people are going to cross.””

    The report, which was published in October, examined Pima County morgue records and found that from 1990 to 1999, there were 125 border-crosser deaths, compared with 802 deaths from 2000-2005, Rubio-Goldsmith said.

    Rubio-Goldsmith hopes the massive increase in deaths will prompt re-evaluation on how the federal government deals with enforcing border strategies, she said.

    “”I don’t think Congress fully understands the tragedy of the deaths,”” said Senate Minority Leader Marsha Arzberger, D-Ariz. “”There will not be an answer until Congress decides to develop a comprehensive federal approach.””

    The report was submitted to the Pima County Board of Supervisors in October and was released to the public this month.

    Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, Texas, started in 1993 and Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego began a year later, with objectives to reduce the number of unauthorized border-crossers by blocking possible crossings through cities.

    The overall number of border-crossers did not decrease, however, and the illegal entrants shifted their route through the Arizona desert.

    “”We (Arizona) were the child that was left out,”” Arzberger said of her district, which includes over 75 percent of the Arizona-Mexico border.

    The research was completed by Daniel Martinez and Inez Magdalena Duarte, two graduate students from the Mexican-American Studies and Research Center, who used criteria developed by the Pima County medical examiner’s office to determine which of the bodies were illegal immigrants.

    The students searched death records, noting where bodies were found, what they were wearing and whether they had any documents to identify them as an illegal entrants.

    “”Seeing so many death records stirred a sense of mourning every day I went to the office,”” Duarte said. “”I am saddened by these deaths and feel a bit of hopelessness.””

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