PHOENIX – New data from the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector show that while apprehensions of unauthorized border crossers in Southern Arizona have basically flatlined, the number of migrants who are rescued in the desert is going up.
The Border Patrol released new statistics through the end of August, which is the first 11 months of the fiscal year. More than 760 migrants were rescued in that period.
That is 20 percent more than the number rescued in all of 2012, and 50 percent more than 2011.
Border Patrol spokesman Peter Bidegain says one reason more migrants in distress are being rescued has to do with the expansion of cell phone coverage in remote stretches of the Arizona desert.
"Just the fact that a migrant may be carrying a phone, whereas ten years ago that might not have been the case," Bidegain said.
The Tucson Sector covers most of Arizona's border with Mexico and stretches as far north as the area around Casa Grande.
In this time period, agents discovered the bodies of 168 deceased migrants in the Arizona desert.
Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector apprehended just more than 113,000 unauthorized border crossers through August, which is fairly constant compared to 2012 numbers. That is a dramatic fall from 2000, however when apprehensions numbered more than 600,000.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The chart accompanying this article has been modified to reflect the correct number of desert rescues and deceased persons found in the desert.