Reports in recent years have indicated that increasing numbers of illegal aliens attempting to enter the United States die while crossing the Southwest border.
The US Border Patrol implemented the Border Safety Initiative in 1998 with the intention of reducing injuries and preventing deaths among illegal aliens who attempt to cross the border under unsafe condition or at unsafe locations.
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.
The Government Accounting Office 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, 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 statistical methods to control for the influences of measurable variables that could affect deaths, such as changes in the number of illegal aliens attempting to cross the border.
Also, it's advisable to categorize the types of border-crossing deaths. For instance, many deaths occur as a result of transit of illegal aliens by smugglers or "coyotes," while other occur as a result of natural conditions such as weather and terrain.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.