Medical Examiner Reports Higher Number of Immigrant Deaths
Jul 26, 2012 at 3:47 PM CST
Jul 26, 2012
Undocumented immigrants continue making the treacherous journey into the United States each day. But the Webb County medical examiner says so far this year more people crossing in the Laredo area are dying on their journey. And as she tells our Annette Garcia the reason may be because of an increase in law enforcement. “We understand why they make why they’re making the journey to come to the U.S. to try to better themselves. but its just too dangerous.” The skeletal remains of a man who risked everything to call the United States home last year. Webb County Medical Examiner Dr. Corinne stern says he's not the only one who's died trying. In fact she says 2012 so far is shaping up to be one of the deadliest years for undocumented immigrants making the journey on foot. “We’ve already seen this year 27 crossers are numbers are up from this time last year. Total last year we had 41. We look to far exceed those numbers this year.” Over two dozen dead, succumbing to the heat experienced on ranches that can take days to cross through. “You just feel sorry for them. It’s so hot it burns your hands through the gloves.” “They have bottles of water that’s not even clear water.” Those who do survive left to tell a very common story. “There were ten of us and two gallons of water. There were twenty of us and two gallons of water. We’ve been walking for three days.” It may all be happening more frequently because of the large effort made to better secure the border with an increase of law enforcement officers. Stern says people are crossing in areas like northwest Webb County where they're less likely to run into law enforcement. But if they need help they’ll be less likely to find that either. “They’re out on the ranches for many more days then they used to be.” Personal belongings found on each body helps in identifying most victims. But there are so many more that simply vanish. “We take the reports.” “This particular one came in on the 18th the last she heard from her nephew he was on a bus from Monterrey they haven’t heard from him since.” Their stories, she says leave a lasting impact. “It’s tough. It’s difficult. Its like having a mom sitting right across from you as it is talking to her over the phone in the Honduras. That’s still they’re child or their husband its difficult.” Dr. Stern says law enforcement does do a good job at trying to rescue immigrants but most just don't take the help. Stern's office takes patients from seven other counties in addition to Webb and says she has also seen an increase in the number of women and people over the age of 50 dying while crossing the border.