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Extreme heat poses new deadly danger for migrants in Mexico

Photo: Hérika Martínez Agence France-Presse People seeking asylum in the United States are now threatened by this heat wave which has been affecting a large part of Mexico for almost three months.

Hérika Martínez – Agence France-Presse in Ciudad Juarez

Posted at 9:18 a.m.

  • Americas

The body of a man was found this week by security forces in a desert area near Ciudad Juarez in northern Mexico, on the border with the United States, where migrants hope get to the other side after a grueling journey.

The victim is a 45-year-old Mexican migrant from the north-central state of Durango, who died of heatstroke due to prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, according to Mexican civil protection.

The body was discovered on Wednesday. A week earlier, authorities found the body of a woman who had died of dehydration, also in a desert area of ​​Ciudad Juarez (in the northern state of Chihuahua), where temperatures have exceeded 40 degrees in recent days.

Victims of homicides, accidents, theft, extortion, kidnapping, smugglers, people seeking asylum in the United States are now under threat by this heat wave which has been affecting a good part of the Mexican territory for almost three months.

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“It’s too hot,” says Dioner José Romero, a 25-year-old Venezuelan. “I'm feeling a little dehydrated, it's 43, 44, 45 degrees.”

“The sun is too strong. It's not that I'm not getting used to it, but it's something new for me. I feel like I'm suffocating a little,” adds his compatriot Nelson Ramos, in a reception center run by Catholics in Ciudad Juarez.

The heat wave caused across the country 155 deaths since March, according to the authorities' report updated this week.

« Heat and fatal outcome »

The Mexican's body was discovered among bushes, in the sand and under a sun that forced agents of the National Guard and the National Institute of Migration (INM) to cover their heads with their own clothes while the forensic doctors were at work.

Around the body were empty bottles that the candidates for passage to the United States left behind them while walking towards the Rio Bravo protected on the American side by a border wall several meters high.

The migrant was abandoned by the trafficker who claimed to take him to the United States, and who returned bury him in the desert. Under pressure from relatives, he revealed the location of the body, according to testimonies collected by AFP.

Following their research, the authorities Mexican authorities found six other undocumented people, including one with symptoms of dehydration.

US border patrols say that since October they have recorded the deaths of 77 people in the El Paso sector, the Texas city opposite Ciudad Juarez. Heat stroke and falls from the wall are among the main causes of death.

The director of civil protection in Ciudad Juarez, Mauricio Rodriguez, is calling on migrants “to avoid” traveling “in high temperatures.”

“The impact of heat can lead to a fatal outcome,” he added when interviewed by AFP.

Nearly 1.3 million irregular migrants crossed Mexican territory between January and May of this year, according to figures from the National Institute of Migration (INM).

The majority of them are from Latin America or the Caribbean (Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, Haiti) even if a total of 177 nationalities are represented.

During their crossing, which often includes the dangerous Darien forest on the border between Colombia and Panama, migrants are exposed to diseases (respiratory, skin, stomach problems, etc.) after traveling tens of kilometers in unsanitary conditions, 'after a recent report from the NGO Médecins sans frontières.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116