Illegal Immigration: Border-Crossing Deaths Have Doubled Since 1995; Border Patrol's Efforts to Prevent Deaths Have Not Been Fully Evaluated.: GAO-06-770

September 2006
GAO Reports;9/14/2006, p1
Government Document
Reports in recent years have indicated that increasing numbers of migrants attempting to enter the United States illegally die while crossing the southwest border. The Border Patrol implemented the Border Safety Initiative (BSI) in 1998 with the intention of reducing injuries and preventing deaths among migrants that attempt to cross the border illegally. GAO assessed: (1) Trends in the numbers, locations, causes, and characteristics of border-crossing deaths. (2) Differences among the Border Patrol sectors in implementing the BSI methodology. (3) The extent to which existing data allow for an evaluation of the effectiveness of the BSI and other efforts to prevent border-crossing deaths. GAO's analysis of data from the BSI, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and studies of state vital registries shows consistent trends in the numbers, locations, causes, and characteristics of migrant border-crossing deaths that occurred along the southwest border between 1985 and 2005. Since 1995, the number of border-crossing deaths increased and by 2005 had more than doubled. This increase in deaths occurred despite the fact that, according to published estimates, there was not a corresponding increase in the number of illegal entries. Further, GAO's analysis also shows that more than three-fourths of the doubling in deaths along the southwest border since 1995 can be attributed to increases in deaths occurring in the Arizona desert. Differences among the BSI sector coordinators in collecting and recording data on border-crossing deaths may have resulted in the BSI data understating the number of deaths in some regions. Despite these differences, our analysis of the BSI data shows trends that are consistent with trends identified in the NCHS and state vital registry data. However, the Border Patrol needs to continue to improve its methods for collecting data in order to accurately record deaths as changes occur in the locations where migrants attempt to cross the border--and consequently where migrants die. Improved data collection would allow the Border Patrol to continue to use the data for making accurate planning and resource allocation decisions. Comprehensive evaluations of the BSI and other efforts by the Border Patrol to prevent border-crossing deaths are challenged by data and measurement limitations. However, the Border Patrol has not addressed these limitations to sufficiently support its assertions about the effectiveness of some of its efforts to reduce border-crossing deaths. For instance, it has not used multivariate statistical methods to control for the influences of measurable variables that could affect deaths, such as changes in the number of migrants attempting to cross the border.


Related Articles

  • Settlement sends signal on violence by border patrol. Davidson, Miriam // Christian Science Monitor;6/6/95, Vol. 87 Issue 133, p3 

    Reports on the settlement reached between Mexican Dario Miranda's family and the Border Patrol Agent Michael Elmer and the US government. Incident of Miranda being killed at the border.

  • President Clinton asked Congress. MacLachlan, Suzanne; Mutch, David // Christian Science Monitor;5/5/95, Vol. 87 Issue 112, p2 

    Reports the request made by President Bill Clinton to the Congress to hire more Border Patrol agents and speed up the deportation of illegal aliens.

  • La Migra Goes North.  // Progressive;Feb2003, Vol. 67 Issue 2, p21 

    Presents a photograph of the rotating and unannounced checkpoint set up by the U.S. Border Patrol in Michigan to search for undocumented immigrants.

  • Phoenix School Officials Charge U.S. Border Agents Harass Students.  // Education Week;5/6/1992, Vol. 11 Issue 33, p2 

    The article reports the accusation by officials of the Phoenix Union High School District in Phoenix, Arizona that locally based Border Patrol agents have harassed students in an effort to search for illegal aliens.

  • Border Patrol loves biometrics.  // Automatic I.D. News;Nov95, Vol. 11 Issue 12, p24 

    Reports on the United States Border Patrol's use of fingerprint identification equipment to process illegal aliens apprehended trying to cross the border into the country. Equipment features; System implementation.

  • Sending the Bad Guys Back Home. Schwartz, Emma // U.S. News & World Report;10/1/2007, Vol. 143 Issue 11, p32 

    The article discusses the infrequency with which foreign nationals in U.S. prisons are deported. Fewer than 13% were deported in 2006. Authorities claim insufficient resources prevent them from keeping track of imprisoned illegals. Several measures in the U.S. House and Senate would make more...

  • Good neighbors. Nicley, Michael C. // FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin;Sep95, Vol. 64 Issue 9, p8 

    Features the US Border Patrol's Community Resource Development Program. Background on the Border Patrol's mandate; Features of the program; Participants' roles in the program.

  • Border Patrol to double agents.  // Wenatchee Business Journal;May97, Vol. 11 Issue 5, p9 

    Focuses on the plans of the US Border Patrol to double the number of its field agents in Wenatchee, Washington.

  • Violence up as border bristles with guns. Baldauf, Scott // Christian Science Monitor;6/19/2000, Vol. 92 Issue 145, p3 

    Reports on the increased efforts of the United State Border Patrol to apprehend individuals attempting to cross the border from Mexico to the US.


Read the Article

Other Topics