Migrant deaths dipped to the lowest level in 15 years with 307 deaths recorded along the southern border between October 2013 and September 2014. A total of 115 deaths were recorded in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley sector, making it the first time that “Arizona was not the deadliest place to cross the border,” the Associated Press reported.
In the past, the Tucson Sector in Arizona had been more dangerous to cross because of the difficult desert terrain, triple-digit temperatures, and an influx of Mexican border crossers. But now, more immigrants from Central America, most fleeing violence and gangs, are driving the surge into Texas. An especially sharp increase in the number of migrant children apprehended along the Rio Grande Sector this year has in part driven the increase of border crossers through Texas, rather than Arizona. Deaths in the Rio Grande Valley were down 26 percent this year as that sector had a total of 156 migrant deaths last year. And by the end of August 2014, the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner in the Tucson Sector reported 112 sets of remains, down from 178 sets of remains found last year, the Arizona Daily Star reported in September.
Border officials say that the lower numbers of death can in part be attributed to greater Spanish-language ad campaigns aimed at deterring Latin Americans from leaving their countries. The drop in migrant deaths has also been helped by the implementation of ten additional rescue beacons set up by border officials that allow migrants to call for help when they’re lost in the desert.
Still, the number of border deaths worldwide has reached 40,000 over the past 14 years.