9 migrants die crossing Swift River Texas – Winnipeg Free Press

Officials on both sides of the US-Mexico border searched for more victims on Saturday after at least nine migrants died trying to cross the rain-swollen Rio Grande River, a dangerous attempt to cross the border in a area where the water level had risen more than 2 feet in a single day.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Mexican officials discovered the victims near Eagle Pass, Texas on Thursday after days of heavy rain. U.S. officials recovered six bodies, while Mexican teams recovered three, according to a CBP statement. It is one of the deadliest drownings on the US-Mexico border in recent history.

The river, which was just over 3 feet (90 centimeters) deep at the start of the week, reached more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) on Thursday, and the water was flowing five times faster than usual, according to the National Weather Service.

FILE – A member of the Texas National Guard looks across the Rio Grande into Mexico from the United States in Eagle Pass, Texas, August 26, 2022. At least eight migrants were killed as dozens attempted the dangerous crossing of the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas, officials said Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it responded to the report a day early. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

“There was a lot more water in the river after that rain, and there was more rain upstream, which is adding to the flow,” said NWS meteorologist Bob Fogarty.

CBP said U.S. crews rescued another 37 people from the river and arrested 16 others, while Mexican authorities arrested 39 migrants.

CBP did not specify which country(ies) the migrants came from and provided no additional information on search and rescue operations. The local Texas agencies involved did not respond to requests for information.

Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector, which includes Eagle Pass, is quickly becoming the busiest corridor for illegal crossings. Officers arrested migrants nearly 50,000 times in the area in July, with the Rio Grande Valley ranking a distant second with around 35,000. Eagle Pass is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) southwest of San Antonio.

The region attracts migrants from dozens of countries, many of whom are families with young children. About six of the 10 stops in the Del Rio area in July were migrants from Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua.

The area, which stretches 395 kilometers along the Río Grande, has been particularly dangerous as river currents can be deceptively fast and change quickly. Crossing the river can be difficult even for good swimmers.

In a news release last month, CBP said it discovered the bodies of more than 200 migrants who died in the area from October through July.

This year is on course to break last year’s record for the highest number of deaths at the US-Mexico border since 2014, when the UN’s International Organization for Migration began tracking. The organization has counted more than 4,000 deaths at the border since 2014, based on news reports and other sources, including 728 last year and 412 in the first seven months of this year, often from dehydration or drowning. . June was the fourth deadliest month on record, with 138 deaths.

Border Patrol has not released official counts since 2020.

In June, 53 migrants were found dead or dying in a tractor-trailer on a side road in San Antonio in the deadliest documented tragedy for claiming the lives of migrants smuggled across the border from Mexico.

Some of the busiest border crossings – including Eagle Pass and Yuma, Arizona – were relatively quiet two years ago and now largely attract migrants from outside Mexico and the “Triangle of the World” countries. North” of Central America which are Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Mexico has agreed to take in migrants from the countries of the “Northern Triangle”, as well as its own nationals, if they are deported from the United States under Title 42, the pandemic rule in force since March 2020 which denies the right to seek asylum on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

People from other countries are likely to be released to the United States on humanitarian parole or with notices to appear in immigration court because the United States is struggling to bring them home due to costs. , strained diplomatic relations or other considerations. In the Del Rio sector of the Border Patrol, which includes Eagle Pass, only one in four stops in July were processed under the pandemic rule, compared to about half in the rest of the border, according to government figures.

Venezuelans were by far the most common nationality encountered by Border Patrol agents in the Del Rio sector in July, accounting for 14,120 of 49,563 arrests, or nearly three out of 10. They were followed by Cubans, who were arrested 10,275 times, then Mexicans. , Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Colombians, in that order.

As more people crossed into southern Texas in the 2010s, Brooks County became a death trap for many migrants trying to bypass a Border Patrol highway checkpoint in the town of Falfurrias, about 110 kilometers north of the border. The smugglers dropped them off before the checkpoint and managed to pick them up on the other side, but some died on the way from dehydration.

The Baboquivari Mountains in Arizona and the ranches of Brooks County in Texas still attract Border Patrol agents and grieving families in hopes of rescuing migrants or otherwise finding dead bodies, but currents of a deceptive force around the Texas towns of Eagle Pass and Del Rio have become increasingly dangerous as the area has become one of the most popular places to enter the United States illegally.

Not all victims are migrants. In April of this year, the body of a Texas guard was found in the Rio Grande. He had jumped in to try to help a migrant who was struggling in the water.

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Wallace reported from Dallas and Murphy reported from Oklahoma City. Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed.

Christy J. Olson