More than 700 migrants died or disappeared trying to enter the US from Mexico last year, the report stated
The 2,000-mile (3,200km) border between the US and Mexico is the world's deadliest land migration route, a recent UN study claimed. Some 728 migrants died or disappeared there last year, an increase of more than 50% since 2020.
Published by the International Organization for Migration, a UN body, the report labeled 2021 as the deadliest year for migration in the Americas since 2014, when it began collecting data. More than 1,200 migrants died or disappeared in the region last year, with 728 dying or vanishing along the US-Mexico border alone, 53% more than in 2020.
"The number of deaths on the United States-Mexico border last year is significantly higher than in any year prior, even before Covid-19," Edwin Viales, author of the report, said. "Yet, this number remains an undercount due to the diverse challenges for data collection."
The number of migrants attempting to enter the US illegally fell during 2020, amid a worldwide slump in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, and with the Trump administration enforcing tough security measures at the border. However, Border Patrol officers encountered more than three times as many illegal immigrants in 2021 as in 2020, and more than 1.5 million arrests have been reported this year, on track to outstrip last year's record total of 1.7 million.
The crisis at the border was highlighted last month by the deaths of 46 immigrants in the back of a truck near San Antonio, Texas. Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, blamed the tragedy on President Joe Biden's "open-border policies" and "refusal to enforce the law." Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also pointed to the US' "lack of control" at the border as fueling such incidents.
Upon taking office last January, Biden did away with nearly all of Trump's border security policies, reinstating the Obama-era doctrine of releasing apprehended migrants into the US, and ending Trump's 'Remain in Mexico' policy, which forced potential migrants to stay on the Mexican side of the border while their immigration claims were processed.
According to the International Organization for Migration, around half of those who died or disappeared throughout the Americas in 2021 remain unidentified. Of those who could be identified, Mexicans made up the largest proportion, followed by Guatemalans and Venezuelans.