Trucks – Remember Victoria, Texas?
In May 2003 the bodies of 18 illegal Mexican immigrants, including a child, who died from suffocation and heat exhaustion were discovered in a packed tractor trailer abandoned at a rest stop. The gruesome find on the outskirts of the south central Texas town of Victoria was one of the worst cases of immigrant smuggling deaths in recent memory. The trailer was equipped with a refrigeration unit but it was not on at the time.
Someone from inside the sweltering truck used a cell phone to call an emergency 911 operator around midnight, frantically pleading that the immigrants were trapped and suffocating. But the call was lost and the truck rode on until Victoria.
It was two hours later when sheriff’s deputies responding to a disturbance at the truck stop discovered the dead among a group of immigrants packed into the trailer, many of whom ran off when the doors were opened early in the morning.
Trains – Remember this accident from September 2003?
U.S. Border Patrol agents reported that a 23-year-old Mexican national was killed when an eastbound train ran over his head just after 11:30 p.m. The accident severed a portion of the man’s head, agents said. Sixteen illegal immigrants have died while crossing through the patrol’s Yuma sector, agents said.
The day began for the victim and a friend just after 6 p.m., when the duo entered illegally through the All-American Canal, north of Los Algodones, and walked approximately five miles to the tracks.
The two were exhausted from having gone more than one day without food and sat down near the tracks to get a drink of water, when they fell asleep. They planned to ride a train to Orange County, California; both men lived there but recently returned to Mexico to visit family.
A spokesperson for the Border Patrol said illegal immigrants typically sit near the tracks or lay on them to get a better feel for when a train is coming. He said many sit on the tracks to avoid being bit by snakes.
Boats – Remember this near tragedy from April 2006?
The Coast Guard intercepted a 66 foot commercial fishing boat, carrying 21 illegal migrants in the late afternoon 50 miles North East of Port Mansfield.
The commercial fishing boat Esmeralda &Yahir was operating suspiciously off the coast of Corpus Christi. During a safety inspection the Coast Guard boarding team discovered 21 illegal migrants, including one pregnant woman. The fishing boat was escorted into Port Aransas, Texas, where Immigrations Customs Enforcement and Custom Border Patrol took custody of the illegal migrants.
This case was very nearly a tragedy at sea. The migrants had been placed in a small unventilated hold for approximately 5 hours, where the temperature exceeded 38 degrees Celsius (100.4ºF). There was no food and very little water. During the boarding by the Coast Guard, the vessel’s electrical system stopped operating, and the vessel lost all lights, navigational equipment and the radio. If this boat had not been intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard, then everyone, including the coyote, might have died at sea.
Desert – The “Season of Death”
People die trying to cross the desert throughout the year, but the “Season of Death” is June-September, when almost half of the deaths occur.
According to the U.S. Border Patrol, 5,570 human beings have died trying to cross the Southwest border of the United States between 1998 and 2012. Many more remain unfound, uncounted, unknown.
The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner in Tucson, Arizona investigates the highest number of migrant deaths in the country and handles more unidentified remains per capita than any other medical examiner’s office in the United States.
If you die in the desert, your family may never know – even when a body is found, it is difficult to identify the individual. The majority are never identified.
Do not become a tragic statistic! Do not trust a coyote, they may take your money and leave you to die. If you or a loved one want to immigrate to the United States, do it by applying for proper status. Do it legally; do it safely.
Migrants on the fishing vessel Esmeralda & Yahir recover in the fresh air as the Coast Guard boarding team processes their information.