The Deadliest Land Migration Route in the World: US-Mexico Border
The US-Mexico border has gained the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s deadliest land migration route, where countless lives are lost, and migrants go missing while attempting perilous crossings. In 2022, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) documented 686 deaths and disappearances of migrants on the US-Mexico frontier. However, this number likely underrepresents the actual toll due to missing data.
A Record Year of Tragedy Across the Americas
The year 2022 marked a somber milestone as it recorded the highest number of fatalities along migration routes in the Americas since at least 2014 when the IOM began documenting deaths and disappearances. A total of 1,457 fatalities were recorded across the region in this devastating year. These fatalities were distributed as follows: 566 in North America, 483 in Central America, 350 in the Caribbean, and 58 in South America.
Specifics of Tragedy at the US-Mexico Border
At the US-Mexico border in 2022, 686 migrant deaths were recorded. These included 105 females, 468 males, and 29 minors. Notably, this figure does not encompass data from the coroner’s offices in Texas border counties and the Mexican search and rescue agency, suggesting that the actual number of deaths may be higher.
Causes of Tragedy: Lack of Safe Migration Options
The dire situation along the US-Mexico border can be attributed to the absence of safe and regular mobility options. Many migrants see no alternative but to resort to irregular migration routes, placing their lives in jeopardy. Harsh environmental conditions, such as the unforgiving Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, take a toll on migrants, leading to heatstroke in summer and hypothermia in winter. Tragically, some bodies are never recovered.
Trends in Migrant Deaths: Caribbean Routes
One concerning trend observed by the IOM in the Americas was the rise in deaths on migration routes in the Caribbean. In 2022, 350 deaths were documented, a stark increase from 245 in 2021 and previous years’ lower figures. The majority of victims on these Caribbean routes hailed from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba.
The Darien Gap Challenge
The perilous Darien Gap, a jungle border crossing between Panama and Colombia, saw 141 documented migrant deaths in 2022. However, the remote and treacherous nature of this area, along with criminal gangs operating along the route, suggests that the actual number of lives lost may be considerably higher.
The Urgent Need for Action
The data presented underscores the urgent need for decisive action to establish safe and regular migration pathways. The current situation constitutes a humanitarian emergency, with the actual number of migrant deaths likely exceeding recorded figures. Accurate data is essential, but the most effective measure to reduce migration-related deaths is the creation of accessible, safe, and regular migration routes for people seeking a better life.
Escalating Challenges at the US-Mexico Border
In August, the US Border Patrol arrested over 91,000 migrants, primarily family groups, crossing the border—an increase of 30 percent for two consecutive months. Families became the largest demographic crossing the US-Mexico border during Joe Biden’s presidency, surpassing single adults. Despite warnings, the influx of children traveling with adults continues, illustrating the complexity of the border situation.
Throughout August, images depicted families, including young children and babies, navigating rivers, scaling fences, and traversing the border, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive solutions to address the ongoing challenges at the US-Mexico border.