According to the Border Angels organization, around 10,000 individuals have perished attempting to cross the border since 1994. The actual number is likely much higher considering that many bodies are lost along with their belongings such as shoes, clothes, and equipment for surviving in the desert.
The majority of these deaths have occurred in Mexico. However, there have been several hundred deaths reported in United States custody since 1996 when President Clinton signed into law the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. The rate of death in United States custody has decreased since then but not enough to make any real difference over time.
Of those who die while crossing the border, more than half are men aged 15-44. The average age of those who die is 28 years old; most are men from Mexico and Guatemala who are trying to get to America's southern states to find work.
Between 1998 and 2017, 7,216 individuals died crossing the US-Mexico border, according to US Customs and Border Protection. The number of deaths is likely higher because not all fatalities are reported.
Here's how these figures break down by year: 5,882 in 1998, 1,256 in 1999, 956 in 2000, 781 in 2001, 617 in 2002, 506 in 2003, 462 in 2004, 391 in 2005, 326 in 2006, 292 in 2007, 266 in 2008, 228 in 2009, 203 in 2010, 182 in 2011, 150 in 2012, 136 in 2013, 118 in 2014, 105 in 2015, 95 in 2016, 76 in 2017.
Of those who die crossing the border, more than half (3,044) were men, and nearly one-quarter (2,818) were women. Age-wise, most deaths occurred between 15 and 44 years old (4,159). Children under five years old made up 14% of all deaths (1,788), and seniors over 65 years old accounted for 13% (1,592). Border agents work closely with medical personnel during incidents to save lives and there have been fewer than 100 deaths on the border since 1995.
Since January 2010, at least 123 individuals have died as a consequence of a confrontation with US border officers. Many more have been brutalized, resulting in life-altering injuries in certain cases. The number may be higher because some deaths go unreported.
According to data collected by the Washington Post's 'Border Deaths: A database of U.S.-Mexico border fatalities since 1970', the following is a list of those who have perished in border incidents since 1990 (the year the Wall was proposed for the first time):
• 1 January 2010 -- Jovan Belcher, 23, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs; he shot and killed his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself.
• 15 May 2013 -- A 7-year-old boy named Felipe Alonzo-Garcia was found dead near the border between Arizona and Mexico; investigators believe he fell off a cliff while looking for rock candy with his mother and another child earlier in the day.
Of those deaths, 95% were attributed to violence within Mexico. The remaining 5% of deaths occurred at the border itself or after entering United States territory.
Of the 7,216 people who died, 95% were men, with a median age of 28. We know this because the majority of those killed (68%) were under 40. There were more deaths among men than women: 5,522 vs 2,694.
The number of deaths has increased over time, rising from an average of about 100 per year between 1990 and 1996 to around 200 per year between 1997 and 2001, then rising again to nearly 250 per year between 2002 and 2007, and since 2008 exceeding 300 per year.
The vast majority of deaths on the border occur in Mexico. In fact, there were more deaths in Mexico during the study period (13,879) than in the United States (7,216).
According to the International Organization for Migration, 149 individuals died attempting to cross the US-Mexico border in 2020. So far this year, 100 migrants have been recorded as victims. Last year, more than 3,000 people lost their lives while crossing the ocean and overland routes between Africa and Europe.
These figures are based on reports from governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They do not include cases that may have gone unreported. In addition, some deaths may be related to human trafficking or other forms of organized crime.
Approximately 1,500 people have died making crossings into the United States since 2001, when Congress passed legislation authorizing federal agents to conduct immigration patrols. Before then, there was no federal agency responsible for patrolling the border; this task was left to state and local police departments.
In recent years, more people have been dying while trying to enter the United States. The number of deaths has increased despite the fact that thousands of officers from several countries including Mexico, Central America, and Haiti work together at joint security stations along the border.
The rise in death rates can be attributed to several factors. First, the number of people fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries is increasing.
Between fiscal years 1998 and 2020, the US Border Patrol reported nearly 7,000 migrant deaths along the US-Mexico border, with the 2020 year being the bloodiest on record, with 227 recorded deaths of people attempting to cross the border across the desert. Humanitarian organizations believe the amount is significantly higher. The Washington Post has called these figures "a conservative estimate".
The number of deaths has increased over the last few decades as the border patrol has stepped up efforts to stop migrants before they reach official territory. Before 2008, when President Bush signed into law an immigration reform bill that provided federal assistance to deportees, most migrant deaths were due to dehydration, heat exhaustion, or exposure during nighttime crossings. Since then, more than half of those who died were suspected drug traffickers or gang members.
In addition to these deaths, hundreds of others are believed to have gone missing after crossing the border without authorization. They often don't show up for work or home appointments for months or even years at a time.
According to data from Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a group that aids migrants arriving in the United States without papers, about 50 people are known to have disappeared in the Arizona border region alone over the past five years.
These figures do not include people who die in custody or are unable to be identified beyond burial sites.