Migrant deaths reach second highest point in RGV history

McALLEN — The recent rain came as a relief for Brooks County Sheriff-elect Benny Martinez who always sees the immigrant body count rise along with the summer heat.

“It’s been a busy year for rescues and recoveries. Right now we are already at 40 and last year we had 48, so we’ll hit 48 this year unless everything stops completely,” Martinez said Monday. “I’m hoping the rains continue. I’m hoping we get a hurricane. I’m hoping for something that alleviates this heat that has been unbearable.”

The heat index has been over the 100-degree mark for the greater part of last month, reflective of the migrant death toll which also reached the triple digits in July.

There have been more than 100 reported migrant deaths in the Rio Grande Valley Sector this fiscal year (October to September), making it the second deadliest year to date for migrants crossing through South Texas, according to the latest data from U.S. Border Patrol.

Since 1998 more than 1,200 deaths have been reported by Border Patrol in the 34,000-square-mile RGV sector which encompasses nine stations. But the last five years have been the deadliest on record with more than 600 remains or bodies recovered, or more than 50 percent of all reported deaths in the last 18 years.

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