The harsh, hot terrain that offers little cover from the summer sun around Brooks County in South Texas hasn't stopped wave after wave of undocumented migrants from traipsing through and getting lost or stranded as they seek cities to the north, USA Today reports. Last year, Brooks County collected 119 migrant bodies from the terrain, the highest number in nearly a decade, said Eddie Canales of the South Texas Human Rights Center. So far this year, the center has seen 36 corpses. As time passes and the heat rises, Canales expects that number to climb quickly. In years past, undocumented migrants typically didn't cross during the summer months, as many tried to avoid the lethal summer heat. Faced with U.S. policies such as Title 42 and Remain in Mexico that delay their entry, and deteriorating conditions in their home countries, more asylum seekers have been trying to enter during the summer, leading U.S. Border Patrol officials to issue warnings and train its agents to help keep migrants from perishing in the sun.
More migrants mean more rescue attempts by Border Patrol agents. In May, border agents and officials encountered 239,416 migrants at the southwest border - up from 180,597 the previous May. So far this fiscal year, the agency has conducted 10,588 rescue missions, on pace to surpass last year's 12,833 record. Last week, Customs and Border Protection announced it was launching a “heat mitigation effort” in southern Arizona that includes arming 500 agents with "Heat Stress Kits" and heat-stress training for its agents. Migrants rarely carry enough water to survive the 10- to 14-day trek across the mountains and deserts of southern Arizona, said Jason De León of the Tucson-based Colibri Center for Human Rights. Canales said the conditions are quickly getting worse for the migrants. "They get lost and they run out of water and they die. It's a bad, bad situation out here," he said.