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Border crossings more dangerous despite sharp drop in attempts

By Eric DuVall
A U.S. Border Patrol agent watches the Rio Grande River at the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas. A United Nations report shows border crossing fatalities have increased in 2017 despite a sharp drop in the overall number of attempted illegal crossings. File Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/0937b89ca62e57e7fb7815c2dab92b91/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A U.S. Border Patrol agent watches the Rio Grande River at the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas. A United Nations report shows border crossing fatalities have increased in 2017 despite a sharp drop in the overall number of attempted illegal crossings. File Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The U.S.-Mexican border has become a deadlier place in 2017 than a year ago despite a sharp drop-off in the number of attempted illegal crossings, a new report shows.

A report by the International Organization for Migration, a branch of the United Nations, said there were 232 deaths associated with individuals trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexican border in the first seven months of 2017. A year ago at that time, 204 deaths had been recorded.

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The majority of deaths are a result of exposure to the harsh desert conditions. July was the deadliest month for border crossings on record this year, coinciding with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees much of the time.

The report also showed attempted crossings have decreased nearly by half in 2017, according to data collected by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The decrease tracks with U.S. President Donald Trump's election after a campaign built largely on promises to crack down on undocumented immigration.

Julia Black, a spokeswoman for the group, said the increase in deaths is particularly troubling because so many fewer people are attempting the crossing.

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"These numbers are especially concerning considering that, according to U.S. Border Patrol figures, fewer migrants seem to be crossing into the U.S. in 2017. The U.S. Border Patrol has apprehended 140,024 migrants between January and June 2017, about half the number recorded in the first six months of 2016."

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