In the past 14 years, more than 6,000 people have died trying to migrate through the U.S.'s southern border, a new report by the International Organisation for Migration says. Just in the past year, as many as 445 people died trying to pass into the U.S., reports the Toronto Star; that number comes from the U.S. Border Control and may be a low estimate.
The death rate for would-be U.S. migrants was down slightly last year compared to 2012, the Star reports. At the same time, though, over the past year more than 47,000 unaccompanied children were picked up trying to get into the U.S., a dramatic rise over previous rates. This past summer, the surge in migrant children traveling to the U.S. from Central and South America overwhelmed border facilities.
Many of the children seeking refuge in the U.S. were fleeing from aggressive and deadly governments and gangs south of the border. As long as those conflicts persist, it's reasonable to think the high rate of migrants will, too.
In response, President Obama yesterday approved a new plan to enable Central American children to apply for refugee status, ”providing a legal path for some of them to join family members already living in America,” says the New York Times. With a legal way past the wall, the chances of children being scammed by pollero or robbed, killed, or assaulted on their journey should theoretically go down.
The deaths of migrants to the U.S., though, are part of a much large problem. Since 2000, the IOM writes, nearly 40,000 people, and likely considerably more, have died seeking a better life in a new country. Nearly half the migrant deaths were of people trying to reach Europe, with many fleeing from fighting in Africa and the Middle East.
“Although vast sums of money are spent collecting migration and border control data, very few agencies collect and publish data on migrant deaths,” says IOM Head of Research Frank Laczko in a release issued by the agency. No one really knows how many people die en route, but this is their best estimate.