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Report: Upped border security led to more immigrant deaths

PHOENIX — A new report analyzes the trends and demographics of people who died in south-central Arizona after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

A Continued Humanitarian Crisis at the Border,” published by the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute, released on June 5, takes a look at the number of migrant deaths in Arizona from 1990 to 2012.

The report says the number of immigrant deaths in that region of Arizona peaked in 2010. It concludes that periods of stronger border enforcement led to more immigrant deaths, with the theory that those crossing the border are doing so in more dangerous and remote areas than before.

The report also maps the locations of the 2,238 bodies discovered between 1990 and 2012, taking data from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner in Tucson.

The medical examiner’s office said the average unauthorized immigrant crossing the border is a 30-year-old male, and that 46 percent of those who died after crossing the border illegally perished due to exposure, such as the desert heat.

The report’s authors conclude, “Our hope is that policy makers will consider the data presented in this report as they debate what is arguably the single most important piece of immigration legislation in nearly three decades.”

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