Death and the Arizona Border
Yes, a lot of people are dying on the Arizona border, but the cause is not the drug war. Rather, it is simple fact that crossing the desert on foot is a dangerous proposition. (And this is not a new phenomenon).
It is true that there are a number of people dying along the Arizona-Mexico border. However, rather than being the victims of violent crime, they are dying as they have for years: simply as a result of exposure to the harsh climate of the Sonoran desert as they seek to come to the US so as to seek employment.
Yes, it is an illegal crossing in contravention of US law. However, it further demonstrates the nature of the problem that we face in regards to illegal immigration, i.e., that it is fundamentally an issue of labor supply and demand and unless we address it as such we will never get it under control.
Via the NYT: An Arizona Morgue Grows Crowded
The Pima County morgue is running out of space as the number of Latin American immigrants found dead in the deserts around Tucson has soared this year during a heat wave.
The rise in deaths comes as Arizona is embroiled in a bitter legal battle over a new law intended to discourage illegal immigrants from settling here by making it a state crime for them to live or seek work.
But the law has not kept the immigrants from trying to cross hundreds of miles of desert on foot in record-breaking heat. The bodies of 57 border crossers have been brought in during July so far, putting it on track to be the worst month for such deaths in the last five years.
Since the first of the year, more than 150 people suspected of being illegal immigrants have been found dead, well above the 107 discovered during the same period in each of the last two years.
To reiterate something I have noted on multiple times: these are people willing to risk an unpleasant death for the possibility of coming to America for a job as a gardener, fruit-picker, fast food restaurant janitor, and so forth. That reality is what any effective immigration reform has to deal with.
It is interesting to note that the numbers above also suggest that the passage of SB1070 did not have a deterrent effect on crossings.
And to address a likely objection: yes, it is possible that some of these dead are smugglers. However, I would note that while there are cases of human mules being used to bring drugs into the US via desert crossings, the major drug traffickers have better and far more efficient ways to ship drugs into the United States. And, further, there are easier ways for people with money to get into the US than walking across the desert.