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Border-crossing deaths drop dramatically in Arizona

August 16, 2011 | 11:18 am

Arizona immigration 
Last year, authorities found so many dead bodies along the Arizona-Mexico border that the local coroner’s office parked a 50-foot refrigerated truck in its receiving area to store the bodies in the summer heat. In the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector -– the nation’s busiest –- a record 249 migrant deaths were reported during the fiscal year.

So far this year, migrant deaths in the same region have plummeted 38%, the Arizona Republic said. The Tucson sector reported 132 deaths through July, compared with 212 during the same period a year ago.

The reasons are unclear. Although apprehensions of undocumented immigrants in the Tucson sector dropped 44% through July, they also dipped during last year’s surge in migrant deaths.

Instead, officials said tougher border enforcement and a sour U.S. economy may have warded off potential migrants, as well as a Border Patrol publicity campaign in Mexico that warned of the dangers of crossing the desert.

Dehydration is a leading cause of death, but the Sonoran Desert’s heat so warps bodies that, in many cases, officials can't determine a cause of death.

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-- Ashley Powers in Utah
Twitter.com/ashleypowers

Photo: Lugging gallon jugs of water, migrants thread their way along footpaths just north of the Mexico-Arizona border. Credit: Don Bartletti /Los Angeles Times

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