Migrant deaths rise with more unaccompanied children, families

Migrant deaths rise with more unaccompanied children, families
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Heat-related deaths among migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border rose by 55 percent over the past nine months, a spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol said Monday.

The spokesman, Salvador Zamora, told Reuters that the death toll is expected to increase even more as temperatures rise throughout the summer.

Zamora said 48 migrants have died, up from 31 over the same period in 2017. 

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"We are geared up to surpass last year’s heat-related deaths and the summer is just beginning," Zamora told Reuters. "The demographics of the illegal aliens we are apprehending, the family units, the unaccompanied children, they’re a lot more vulnerable."

Heat-related deaths are the main cause of fatalities for migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The increase in deaths also comes amid an influx of unaccompanied children and families trying to cross into the U.S. illegally.

The latest numbers follow a public uproar over the separation of migrant children from their parents at the U.S. border — a result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy calling for the prosecution of all adults who seek to enter the U.S. illegally.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE capitulated to public pressure last week, signing an executive order that allows children to be detained with their parents or guardians.

On Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it would stop handing over migrants for prosecution until the government could assure that families will not be separated for an extended period of time.