7,000 Deaths and Counting

Date of Publication: 
August, 2017
Source Organization: 
National Foundation for American Policy

Over the past 20 years, more than 7,000 men, women and children have died along the Southwest border. Between 1998 and 2017, there have been 7,127 deaths in Southwest border areas, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. As of July 24, 2017, 212 people have died along the border in FY 2017. In FY 2016, 322 people died. The deaths have continued even as apprehensions and attempts to cross illegally have diminished. There have been 7.8 immigrant deaths per 10,000 apprehensions in FY 2017, similar to the rate in FY 2014, 2015 and 2016. This is lower than the 13.3 immigrant deaths per 10,000 apprehensions in FY 2013. However, when compared to FY 1999, the evidence suggests an immigrant attempting to cross illegally into the United States today is 5 times more likely to die in the attempt than 18 years ago.

The root cause of the deaths is the lack of legal avenues to work combined with increased enforcement at the border. Only rescues by U.S. Border Patrol agents have prevented the number of deaths from being far higher. IfCongress adopted reforms to allow the legal entry of foreign-born workers in sufficient numbers, then the tragedy of immigrant deaths at the border would largely disappear and illegal entry to the United States would be greatly reduced.

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