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2022: The Deadliest Year for Migrants at the Southern Border

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By Manuel Ayala

At least 853 migrants died in the last 12 months in their attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, making 2022 the deadliest year in history, civil organizations warned Friday based on U.S. Border Patrol data.

This figure exceeds the 546 deaths recorded in the fiscal year 2021, and only considers migrants identified or processed in U.S. territory, i.e., it does not report those who have died in Mexican border territory.

Official information indicates that many of the migrants have drowned in the Rio Bravo, the natural border between the two countries, while others have perished due to the high temperatures in the desert.

Likewise, some have died attempting to climb fences in the wall after falling from them.

“Alarming” situation on the southern border

José María García Lara, director of Movimiento Juventud 2000 in Tijuana, told EFE that this situation is “very unfortunate,” because as U.S. security regulations in border areas increase, these figures are generated.

“It is alarming because there is also the figure of those who do not even appear, there are many missing people, many people who are practically left in the hills, the desert or in the sea itself after they are not recovered, a figure that I believe is even greater,” he warned.

For the activist, implementing more rules and laws that restrict the arrival of migrants is counterproductive because it leads to this type of “fatal results since the causes for which migrants are leaving their places of origin must be foreseen.”

“Mechanisms must be created to support these communities so that they can enter in a regulatory manner, as the first step that has already been taken with work visas for Mexico and other countries, and hopefully for next year it will be multiplied precisely to avoid these risks for the entire migrant community,” he said.

Policies lead to dangerous routes

Paulina Olvera Cáñez, director of Espacio Migrante, condemned in an interview with EFE the immigration policies implemented by the United States and the Mexican government.

In particular, he denounced that militarization and persecution “force people in transit to take more dangerous routes and this causes more deaths”.

“Already since 1994, when the United States implemented the policy of prevention through deterrence by building the wall, making people cross through the desert, since then there have been thousands of deaths, a situation that worsened when Donald Trump made the walls higher,” he commented.

The activist added that the Mexican government also bears responsibility by pointing out that “people cannot transit freely, even if they have a document, they cannot travel in buses, move freely and have to resort to coyotes (human traffickers)”.

As an example of the “dangerous” political fallout, he cited the death of 53 migrants who were in a trailer in the U.S. city of San Antonio, Texas, last June.

“But this was because they could not travel freely. Many are also losing their lives in Mexico because they are traveling in cargo trucks that are not suitable for people, but it is because there is no free transit and that leads to more deaths,” he said.

Biden breaks immigration records

The region is experiencing record migration flows to the United States, where Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained an unprecedented 2.76 million undocumented immigrants in fiscal year 2022.

During Joe Biden’s term, from January 2021 to September 2022, more than 3.89 million migrants have been apprehended at the border, which surpasses the Donald Trump and Barack Obama administrations in comparison to the same period, according to figures from the consulting firm TResearch International.

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