Migrant deaths overwhelming border town morgues

Border Report

YUMA, Ariz. (NewsNation) — As towns along the U.S.-Mexico border battle migrant crossings daily, some funeral homes and morgues in Texas border towns are overflowing as migrants, including young children, are dying making the treacherous journey into the U.S.

Multiple sources say that the number of migrant deaths has simply overwhelmed Maverick County — be it drownings in the Rio Grande or dying of thirst in the hot sun.  

In South and Central America, residents hear about migrants arriving in cities like New York and Washington D.C. in buses to start new lives; however, it is likely they don’t know how many people are dying to get there. Migrants often make dangerous, daring river crossings to make it to U.S. soil.

On Tuesday, a 5-year-old girl from Central America drowned while attempting to cross the Rio Grande to enter Texas, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said. Four other migrants from South America were also found trapped in the river nearby and taken to safety.

The Maverick County Sheriff’s Office said this year has been unlike any other when it comes to migrant deaths. Since October, the start of the fiscal year 2022, there have been over 18 search and rescue operations carried out by the U.S. Border Patrol. In the full fiscal year 2021, there were nearly 13,000.

Officials said they’re seeing about 3,000 migrant crossings a day. While U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a decrease in encounters for the month of July, border arrests have reached their highest levels since October, the start of the fiscal year 2022, on track to surpass the 2 million mark by the end of this fiscal year.

Now, funeral homes and morgues in some Texas border cities are running out of space. The deaths have surged so severely that a Maverick County funeral director said he “had to ‘stack’ bodies as he runs out of space,” the New York Post reported.

The Border Patrol has also carried out 443 migrant rescues in the sector this fiscal year, with a toll of 63 fatalities, the Border Report reported. In the full fiscal year 2021, border agents conducted 688 rescues but reported only 39 deaths in El Paso and southern New Mexico.

The International Organization for Migration, which is a part of the U.N., found at least 650 migrants died trying to cross into the U.S. in 2021, and many fear that number will rise this fiscal year.

Rodney Scott, a former border patrol chief, said once you lose control over the border, it becomes significantly more dangerous.

For months, Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber has called on President Joe Biden to visit the border and see it for himself.

When NewsNation last spoke with Schmerber, he said unless the federal government gets more involved on the border, there is no end in sight — the crossings and subsequently the deaths will go on “forever.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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