Thousands of migrants crossing the U.S-Mexico border have been killed and disappeared because of U.S. Border Patrol practices, which have fueled a “missing persons crisis,” according to a new report released Wednesday.
The joint report by the Arizona-based advocacy groups No More Deaths and The Coalition for Human Rights explained how U.S. border patrol agents operating around the borderland deserts are using deadly apprehension methods to chase migrants into “life-threatening terrain,” where thousands have gone missing or died as a result.
Since 1994, the U.S. Border Patrol has carried out a “Prevention Through Deterrence” policy and has led to tens of thousands of disappearances based on data from surveys and missing migrant hotlines.
Border Patrol personnel have also been using increasingly violent tactics to “scatter” border crossers including attack dogs, beatings and chasing border crossers with vehicles.
"The known disappearance of thousands of people in the remote wilderness of the U.S.–Mexico border zone marks one of the great historical crimes of our day," the report said, adding that others are found identified “skeletonized on the desert floor.”
While the report acknowledged that there is “no consensus on how to count the death toll,” even Border Patrol figures — known to be vast underestimations — reported that at least 6,029 people had died in their attempts to cross into the U.S. since the 1990s.
There were over 1,200 cases for unaccounted people opened in 2015 alone, according to data from The Coalition for Human Rights.
"With Trump's promise to build a border wall and to deport 2-3 million undocumented immigrants who have built lives in the U.S., we will inevitably witness more deaths and disappearances in the borderlands," the groups behind the report said in a press release.
The groups are calling for current border patrol practices to be abolished in favor of publicly transparent and well-documented processes that respect “human life, human rights, and human dignity.” They are also calling for people to contact congressional Democrats to establish a government accountability report on Trump's border wall proposal to expose its human and economic cost.
The groups are expected to later release parts two and three of the report, showing how U.S. Border Patrol has destroyed and interfered with humanitarian aid around the borderlands and failed to carry out emergency responses.