WASHINGTON (MNS) — For the fourth year in a row, the Imperial Valley's unforgiving terrain and climate claimed the lives of more illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico than any other region in the country, immigration officials said Monday.
During fiscal 2001, which ended Sunday, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service found 89 people dead in the El Centro border region, more than 30 percent of all migrant deaths along the border, the government reported. The Tucson region, with 74 deaths, was the second deadliest area.
Spanning 76 miles from the Andrade Sand Dunes to the Jacumba Mountains, the El Centro region has led the country in deaths every year since tracking began in 1998.
Agent Dionicio Delgado of the El Centro Border Patrol sector attributed the high death figure to twin dangers — desert heat and irrigation canals. Last year, 24 immigrants died of heat-related deaths in the sector, he said. Thirty-three drowned trying to cross the area's deceptive canals.