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Humanitarian groups fear deadly border year

PHOENIX — A jump in the economy could see a rise in the number of attempted illegal immigrants who die while crossing the border, a humanitarian group said.

Pastor Robin Hoover said border apprehensions are dramatically down from a decade ago and dropped during the recession but his fear is that once the economy is fully recovered the deaths will skyrocket as more jobs become available and more immigrants risk crossing.

Hoover said tighter border security around cities has forced immigrants into more remote, dangerous areas — places where summertime temperatures of 115 degrees are common.

“It is in our interest to find a better way of doing enforcement. Almost 200 people died on the Arizona-Mexico border last year.”

Geoff Boyce with the No More Deaths group in Tucson places 4,000 gallons of water along immigration routes each month.

“These immigrants are desperate,” he said. “Unless there’s a provision in comprehensive immigration reform that gives them a safe, legal way to come to the United States, we will continue to see them crossing the border and taking the risk involved and we will see men, women and children die.”

The National Foundation for American Policy said the Border Patrol identified 477 people who died last year crossing the Mexican border from California east to Texas. That’s up from 375 in 2011.