Mexico: Dying for the American Dream

September 17, 2022

photo: Peter Haden

The number of deaths of immigrants trying to reach the United States has increased exponentially. Joe Biden’s administration, despite his campaign promises, continues with its policy of repression and massive deportations.

The life (and death) of immigrants trying to enter the United States is not a path covered with rose petals. It is, quite simply, the opposite. A clear example of this situation came to light last week. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) itself acknowledged that, during the last year, more than 740 immigrants died while trying to reach the country of the great American dream from Mexico. The number revealed is more than 200 more than the previous year’s figure.

The Department of Homeland Security indicated that the data released was calculated from the beginning of the fiscal calendar, dated October 1, 2021, to the present. In total, 748 deaths were counted, which is a new record compared to the 557 deaths reported during the previous 12 months on the southwest border.

A CNN report estimated that the official figures could be even higher, since other state and local agencies can recover lifeless bodies without the participation of the Border Patrol, the force in charge of controlling the borders and repressing immigrants.

The government report added that in July of this year alone, the Border Patrol made more than 181,000 arrests along the border with Mexico. In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Protection warned in a statement that criminal groups endanger the lives of trafficked persons for their own financial gain.

In the statement, the government institution acknowledged that “smuggling organizations abandon migrants in remote and dangerous areas, resulting in an increase in the number of rescues, but also, tragically, an increase in the number of deaths. The terrain along the border is extreme, the summer heat is severe and the miles of desert that migrants must walk after crossing the border are unforgiving.”

Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights (NHR), told CNN that “migrants, refugees and entire families are using more remote and dangerous routes to reach the United States.”

In its research, the NHR also noted that the number of search and rescue operations, nearly 19,000, grew exponentially over the past year, up from more than 12,800 reported the previous year.

Meanwhile, at the end of August, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned that deportations of children and adolescents from the United States to the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) rose by more than 10,400 percent during the first half of 2022.

The agency’s report detailed that the three Central American countries together recorded 11,361 deportations of minors in the first six months of the year, compared to 108 computed in the same period of 2021. In the case of Mexico, returns of children and adolescents rose 46.1 percent during the first half of the year, from 5,795 cases in 2021 to 8,467 today.

In total, 109,624 people were deported from the United States to Central America’s Northern Triangle, an increase of 104.7 percent over 2021, when the record was 53,554.

Every year, more than 500,000 people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras attempt to migrate irregularly to the United States in search of better living conditions, including thousands of minors.

In a recent report, the DEF website explained: “Every 24 hours, nearly 8,000 people are detained for attempting to enter the United States illegally. Desperate and hiding in trucks, or making a pilgrimage through the deep night, hundreds of thousands seek to cross one of the most heavily guarded zones in the entire world.”

In July, President Joe Biden’s administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold its immigration policy that prioritizes the deportation of undocumented people. The White House’s request follows conflicting federal court decisions based on a rule issued last September by the Department of Homeland Security.

That directive suspended deportations unless the immigrants committed acts of terrorism, espionage or “egregious threats” to public safety. However, a federal judge in Texas ordered to resume the deportation of undocumented immigrants and that generated the legal litigation.

In the same week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order authorizing state forces to detain immigrants and return them to the Mexican border. From the White House, the Biden administration’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, pointed out that “immigration enforcement” is a federal authority and, therefore, “states should not require it or interfere with it”.

During his presidential campaign, Biden promised a more humane treatment of those arriving in his country, but, in practice, he maintains selective expulsions while increasing the number of border crossings. At the same time, the forces in charge of controlling the borders deploy a systematic repression against those who try to cross the Rio Grande. Many of these facts have been denounced in the main international organizations, although this practice continues unabated.

The border between Mexico and the United States, some 1,123 kilometers long, is a highly guarded area, with containment barriers, high intensity lighting, movement detectors and permanent surveillance with off-road trucks and helicopters, which transforms it almost into a war scenario.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – Buenos Aires