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The deadly connections between climate change and migration


(Photo credit: © Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0) Thousands of people have died attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico. And the crossing is growing even more dangerous as the climate changes.

U.S. border security policy in the Southwest is designed to deter unauthorized migration at heavily guarded urban entry points. So undocumented migrants with little access to water often spend days on foot in remote areas of the sweltering Sonoran Desert, located in the Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California, Baja California Sur, and the U.S. states of Arizona and California.

More than 7,000 migrants died during attempted southern border crossings between 2000 and 2020, according to the U.S. Border Control. The actual death toll is likely far higher, because some bodies are never recovered.

UCLA anthropologist Jason De León directs the Undocumented Migration Project , a long-term study of unauthorized migration. In a recent study, De Léon and colleagues modeled the risk of dehydration and death during undocumented border crossings – both now and over the next 30 years. They found that as temperatures warm and desert conditions grow more extreme, more migrants are likely to die from severe dehydration.

Yale Climate Connections spoke with De […]

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