Nearly 750 migrants have died while attempting to make the perilous journey across the US’s southern border this fiscal year — a grim new record that surpasses last year’s total by more than 200 people, according to Department of Homeland Security data.
With still a month to go in the current fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1., there have been 748 confirmed deaths among people crossing the southern border — a striking increase from the 557 deaths recorded in 2021 as crossings have surged over the past year, DHS officials told CNN.
The number of actual deaths is likely higher, as other local agencies often recover bodies without involvement from US Customs and Border Patrol, CNN reported.
Just last week, nine migrants drowned while attempting to cross the rain-swollen Rio Grande on the Texas border, prompting CBP officials to plead with potential migrants not to make the dangerous journey.
Border deaths have increased dramatically in recent years, according to CBP statistics. In 2020, the agency reported 247 deaths and 300 deaths in 2019. CBP has been recording deaths since 1998.
CBP officers made more than 181,000 arrests on the US southern border in July. So far this fiscal year, they’ve reported over 1.94 million encounters at the border, up from 1.73 encounters in all of 2021 and just over 458,000 in 2020.
Fernando García, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, told CNN that the increase in deaths could be tied to desperate migrants taking more dangerous routes into the United States.
CBP declined to comment to CNN on the shocking death toll, but said human traffickers are taking advantage of the migrants, sometimes leaving them alone to die in rough conditions.
“Smuggling organizations are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, leading to a rise in the number of rescues but also tragically a rise in the number of deaths,” the agency said in a statement to the outlet. “The terrain along the border is extreme, the summer heat is severe, and the miles of desert migrants must hike after crossing the border in many areas are unforgiving.”