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Yuma County Sheriff’s Office reports record number of migrant deaths in 2022

Deputies responded to 69 deaths last year, 63 taking place in Yuma County

YUMA, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) - Migrant deaths in the desert southwest are rising, as in 2022, the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) responded to 69 deaths.

CBP reported over 300,000 migrant apprehensions in Yuma for FY'22

More than double the total from 2021.

The rising numbers are concerning to YCSO especially since just in 2017 deputies say zero migrants died in Yuma County.

Of the 69 investigated deaths, 63 took place in Yuma County.

KYMA has made a map showing the location of each death for 2022 which you can see here.

This year’s number is also higher than the last two years combined.

“In 2020 we encountered 16 deaths, and in 2021 it was 35," Tania Pavlak from the Yuma County Sheriff's Office said.

The youngest migrant to die this year was 18, found dead in the desert due to high outdoor temps.

The oldest, a 93-year-old Nicaraguan man, was found on Levee Road on December 19th, the last migrant death of 2022.

But most deaths happen in remote areas of the desert, making them hard to find, and straining YCSO resources.

Yuma reached a high of 114 degrees in 2022 on July 11th

“It is difficult to get to those areas, and because it’s so remote it takes our officers away from responding to community needs and calls locally,” Pavlak said.

But 2022 wasn’t just the deadliest year for migrants in Yuma.

According to Customs and Border Protection, over 800 migrants died crossing the border this year, an all-time high.

That number includes the over 50 migrants who died abandoned in a trailer in Texas in June.

The largest death toll for a human smuggling incident in U.S. history.

Migrant activists say the increasing number of deaths is due to Title 42, which has cut off asylum access for hundreds of thousands of migrants.

And closed ports of entry to most asylum seekers, pushing them to cross illegally in-between ports.

“Everyone who is getting expelled is trying to cross again and again until they make it or until they perish and that is directly tied to policies like Title 42,” Dulce Garcia from Border Angels said.

68 percent of the migrants who died in Yuma County this year were from countries eligible for expulsion under Title 42 if they were apprehended by border patrol, according to YCSO data.

Below is the data provided to KYMA for migrant deaths in 2022 which is referenced in the story.

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