Death at the border

Karl Eschbach, Jacqueline Hagan, Nestor Rodriguez, Rubén Hernández-León, Stanley Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Debates about United States border control policies have generally ignored the human costs of undocumented migration. We focus attention on these costs by estimating the number, causes and location of migrant deaths at the southwest border of the United States between 1993 and 1997. We document more than 1,600 possible migrant fatalities along the border in this period. More than 1,000 of these deaths were reported by United States data sources, and the remainder were Rio Grande drowning deaths reported by Mexican sources. Additional deaths may go unrecorded because the bodies of the decedents do not come to the attention of government officials. Deaths from hyperthermia, hypothermia and dehydration increased sharply from 1993 to 1997 as intensified border enforcement redirected undocumented migration flows from urban crossing points to more remote crossing areas where the migrants are exposed to a greater risk of death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-454
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Migration Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Death at the border'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this