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San Antonio Migrant Deaths Reflect Rising Latin American Desperation

The deaths of at least 51 migrants found inside an abandoned tractor-trailer on a remote road in San Antonio mark a grim addition to a rising death toll among people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally from Mexico. Hundreds of migrants die each year in attempts to reach the U.S., say data kept by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Though numbers haven’t been published since 2020, preliminary reports show that the last two years have been among the deadliest, reports the Wall Street Journal. As enforcement measures have increased with more Border Patrol agents and a higher fence built by former President Trump, migrants have been pushed to more remote or dangerous crossing points. They are trekking through the hot desert, swimming through the dangerous Rio Grande rapids climbing the 30-foot border fence—where some have died or broken limbs falling down the other side. Others, from Haiti or Cuba, travel by sea o the coast of Florida, often in makeshift rafts. Officials have also reported an uptick in migrants found hiding in train cars, or even between cars or in wheel wells. Tractor-trailers like the one in which migrants were found in San Antonio on Monday are an increasingly common tool used by human smugglers, making it easier to transport large groups while avoiding detection. The migrants who died Monday were loaded into the truck in the South Texas border city of Laredo. They drove through a Border Patrol checkpoint north of Laredo, before being abandoned on a San Antonio roadside. The number of illegal crossings along the Mexican border hit a record last year. The larger numbers have been driven partly by a sharp economic downturn in Latin America that has left people out of work, facing worsening violence and deepening hunger. "People are becoming more desperate, and the result is they’re willing to place themselves in the hands of increasingly unsavory actors, taking risks that for them are calculated but also increasingly lead to tragedy,” said Michelle Mittelstadt off the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.