According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “economic precariousness, government corruption, crime, violence, and—increasingly—climate change” are just a few of the reasons many migrants from Central America are arriving at the U.S. southern border illegally in 2021.
Now, almost a month after Vice President Kamala Harris warned Guatemalan migrants not to come to the U.S. while the nation works on sweeping immigration reform, VERIFY viewer Richard wants to know if more people have died trying to cross the border during the first six months President Joe Biden has been in office compared to the four years of President Donald Trump’s term.
Have more people died trying to cross the U.S. southern border during the six months President Joe Biden has been in office compared to the four years of President Donald Trump’s term?
No, more people have not died trying to cross the U.S. southern border during the six months President Joe Biden has been in office compared to the four years of President Trump’s term.
WHAT WE FOUND
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) keeps a record of each time an agent finds a migrant's body along the Southwest border. It's important to note that the data does not record when a person may have died or why they may have tried crossing the border, just when their body was found.
According to data (view below) shared with VERIFY by a CBP spokesperson, 203 bodies were found from October 2020 through May 2021, which includes the first five months of President Biden’s term in office and almost four months of the end of President Trump’s term.
That number is far less than the 833 bodies found from Oct. 2017 through Sept. 2020, which does not include nine months of data from when Trump was in office because CBP tracks data using fiscal years.
CBP notes “there are separate instances unaccounted for where other law enforcement agencies recover deceased migrants without USBP involvement.”
Meanwhile, the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office in Arizona tracks migrant deaths in detail since the county shares a 120-mile border with Mexico.
Data shared with VERIFY show the county recorded roughly 595 deaths during Trump’s term in office. This year, through June 22, they report to have found 100 bodies.
While the recorded numbers from CBP and the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office show a significant number of migrant deaths at the U.S. southern border, the data does not show that the number of deaths has significantly increased during Biden’s first six months in office in comparison to Trump’s four-year term.
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