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Border Crackdown Leads to Higher Deaths

April 13, 2013   ·   0 Comments

falfurrias immigrant body

Immigrants crossing more dangerous routes seen as the reason behind the higher death tolls.  More than a quarter of all illegal immigrant crossing deaths happen in Brooks County.  The Wall Street Journal’s piece is the latest, and best to date, in the media attention placed on the area.

The growing U.S. crackdown on immigration is leading to a grim reality: While the number of people crossing the border is down, the number who die while doing so is rising as immigrants take more dangerous routes to avoid apprehension.

The Brooks County checkpoint on U.S. 281 heading toward San Antonio averages about 10,500 vehicles a day, making it one of the busiest checkpoints in Texas. Coyotes engage in a perilous cat-and-mouse game there with authorities, steering immigrants through vast private ranches for days to get around the checkpoint.

The tiny county, population 7,200, accounted for more than a quarter of suspected illegal immigrant deaths along the entire U.S.-Mexico border last year. But the immigrants, who typically pay from $5,000 to $7,500 to be smuggled into the U.S., according to authorities, are desperate enough to try.

Brooks County law-enforcement officials say immigrants sneak for miles around the checkpoint on foot with help from the smuggling guides—hard journeys in the hot sun that can take days. They are then shuttled to stash houses in Houston before heading to their final destinations across the country. The officials add that many of the criminal groups that smuggle people also smuggle drugs, and often force immigrants to carry backpacks filled with contraband during the treks.

Sheriff’s deputies regularly respond to mobile phone calls from panicked immigrants who dial 911 from the brush, begging to be rescued. The Border Patrol has installed beacons on some ranches with signs—in English, Spanish and Chinese—informing immigrants that they can push a red button to notify agents of their position and be saved from death.

Read the rest of the great article here.

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