Border Desert Proves Deadly for Mexicans

Border Desert Proves Deadly for Mexicans---At the bottleneck of human smuggling here in the Sonoran Desert, illegal immigrants are dying in record numbers as they try to cross from Mexico into the United States in the wake of a new Bush administration amnesty proposal that is being perceived by some migrants as a magnet to cross.
"The season of death," as Robert C. Bonner, the commissioner in charge of the Border Patrol, calls the hot months, has only just begun, and already 61 people have died in the Arizona border region since last Oct. 1, according to the Mexican Interior Ministry — triple the pace of the previous year.
The Border Patrol, which counts only bodies that it processes, says 43 people have died near the Arizona border since the start of its fiscal year on Oct. 1, more than in any other year in the same period.....Mr. García said he had heard that the new Bush immigration plan, which would grant work visas to millions of illegal immigrants inside the United States and to others who can prove they have a job, was "amnesty," and he wondered why he was arrested. He said he would try to cross again in a few days.
"It's like catch-and-release fishing," Mr. Stroud, the Border Patrol agent, said with a shrug after helping Mr. García with his blisters. "One week, I arrested the same guy three times. If I dwell on it, it can be frustrating."
Agents and groups opposed to open borders say the spike in crossings and deaths are the fault of the Bush proposal, which is stalled in Congress and unlikely to be acted on this year. But it has created a stir in Mexico, they say.
"They've dangled this carrot, and as a result apprehensions in Arizona are just spiking beyond belief," said T. J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents about 9,000 agents. "The average field agent is just mystified by the administration's throwing in the towel on this."
Mr. Bonner, who is not related to the border commissioner, said the people were crossing in huge numbers, even at the high risk of dying in the desert, because "they're trying to get in line for the big lottery we've offered them."
(New York Times)

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