Argument: A wall would force crossers to take more deadly routes
Mexico’s Foreign Minister Felipe Calderon said – “I insist, it will make many Latin Americans take bigger risks, probably causing deaths.”
Public Policy Institute of California study 7/12/02 – “Migrant deaths at the border grew substantially in the late 1990s, reaching a 15-year peak (367 deaths) in 2000. Migrants are also now more likely to die from environmental causes, probably as a result of the change in crossing locations. In fiscal year 2000, the Border Patrol tracked 135 deaths from exposure to heat and 92 deaths from drowning, up from nine exposure deaths and 48 drownings in 1994.”
Scholar Wayne A. Cornelius in Death at the Border: Efficacy and Unintended Consequences of US Immigration Control Policy asserts that, since tougher border security measures began being implemented with more vigor in 1993, there has been a “sharp increase in mortality among unauthorized migrants along certain segments of the Mexico–US border. The available data suggest that the current strategy of border enforcement has resulted in re-channeling flows of unauthorized migrants to more hazardous areas.” This seems to indicate that a 700-mile wall would have a similarly negative effect on death rates around the border, further diverting prospective illegal immigrants to more hazardous crossings.
Evidence that deaths have increased with President Bush’s greater security efforts:LATimes 10/01/05 – “A record 460 migrants died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in the last year [to October, 2005), a toll pushed higher by unusually hot temperatures and a shift of illegal migration routes through remote deserts…The migrants, herded across the border by smugglers, have been traversing increasingly desolate stretches of desert as the Border Patrol cuts off more accessible routes.”
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed H.R. 6061 in a 10/10/06 letter largely on the basis of concern for the safety of illegal immigrants – “In our estimation, the erection of a border fence would force immigrants, desperate to find employment to support their families, to seek alternative and more dangerous ways to enter the country, contributing to an increase in deaths, including among women and children. It also would drive migrants to depend upon unscrupulous smugglers, who would exploit them and, in some cases, place them in dangerous situations which may cause them harm.”