Immigrant Heat-Related Deaths Persist As Desert Temperatures Climb

June 17, 2017
Michel Marizco
Remains of those still unidentified awaiting identity in the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office morgue in 2016.

High temperatures are expected in southern Arizona this week, increasing the risk to immigrants who cross the border illegally and end up exposed to the desert’s elements.

More than 30 people have died so far this year attempting to cross Arizona’s border with Mexico and another 500 were rescued.

Border Patrol agents rescued eight people from the deserts surrounding Tucson earlier this month, and even before temperatures began to climb, agents near Yuma rescued 11 people. One of them was a 17-year-old boy who later died.

"It’s physically impossible for an individual to carry enough water to avoid severe dehydration on some of these treacherous treks that smugglers put immigrants through," said Border Patrol spokesman Vicente Paco.

The Border Patrol here is shifting rescue agents to areas known as routes where people die. Especially in the West Desert near Ajo, Arizona.

About 1,600 people were rescued last year and 91 were found dead.