TITLE

Illegal Immigration: Border-Crossing Deaths Have Doubled Since 1995; Border Patrol's Efforts to Prevent Deaths Have Not Been Fully Evaluated.: GAO-06-770

PUB. DATE
September 2006
SOURCE
GAO Reports;9/14/2006, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Government Document
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Reports in recent years have indicated that increasing numbers of migrants attempting to enter the United States illegally die while crossing the southwest border. The Border Patrol implemented the Border Safety Initiative (BSI) in 1998 with the intention of reducing injuries and preventing deaths among migrants that attempt to cross the border illegally. GAO assessed: (1) Trends in the numbers, locations, causes, and characteristics of border-crossing deaths. (2) Differences among the Border Patrol sectors in implementing the BSI methodology. (3) The extent to which existing data allow for an evaluation of the effectiveness of the BSI and other efforts to prevent border-crossing deaths. GAO's 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. Further, GAO's 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, our 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 multivariate statistical methods to control for the influences of measurable variables that could affect deaths, such as changes in the number of migrants attempting to cross the border.
ACCESSION #
22677846

 

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