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Arizona border deaths hit 10-year high in 2020, most due to heat

Border Wall
Posted at 11:08 AM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 20:55:57-04

TUCSON, Ariz — The bodies of 220 migrants who crossed the border were recovered from Arizona’s inhospitable deserts, valleys and mountains in 2020.

That number is the highest in a decade following the hottest, driest summer in state history.

Of the decedents who were identified, 71% were between 20-39 years of age, 75% of the recovered remains were males, 8% were females and in 17% of the cases the sex was unable to be determined.

The previous annual high according to the Pima County Medical Examiner’s annual report for 2020 was 224 migrant deaths in 2010.

RELATED: Border Patrol warns of crossing in summer heat

According to the Associated Press, enforcement efforts in California and Texas over the years have pushed migrants into dangerous terrain in Arizona without easy access to food and water. Some advocates believe border wall construction also has played a role.

The cause of death was undetermined in 74% of cases, primarily due to limitations of examination of decomposed and skeletal remains. Of the remainder, environmental exposure combined with dehydration comprised 21% of deaths.

76% of the bodies recovered were determined to be of Mexican nationality, followed by Guatemalans at 12%, and Salvadorans and Hondurans at 3% each.

As of December 31, 2020, 1,190 decedents remain unidentified.