Three people found dead in Rio Grande River at US-Mexico border

Advocates have blamed a string of migrant deaths on increased security that leads some to take more dangerous routes.

rio Grande
Three people cross the Rio Grande River from Mexico to the US near Eagle Pass, Texas on May 22 [File: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP Photo]

The bodies of three people have been found in the Rio Grande River, which separates the United States and Mexico, according to Mexican authorities.

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said the three people, whose bodies were discovered on Sunday, who had apparently drowned, were likely migrants.

A woman, a two-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy were found alive. They were unable to continue crossing the river to the US due to cold water temperatures and strong currents, authorities said. The trio, who were from Honduras, were rescued with an airboat.

The incident was the latest in a series of deaths of people attempting to migrate from Central America to the US. Some advocates have attributed the deaths to a series of security measures meant to discourage such journeys, saying the added barriers encourage migrants to take increasingly dangerous routes.

Last week, a bus crash in northern Mexico killed seven migrants and injured 24. One of those killed was a pregnant woman and two of the injured were minors. Mexican law prohibits truck drivers from giving rides to migrants, forcing many to cram into the back of vehicles where they hide for long journeys.

On Tuesday, authorities in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz said six migrants drowned off Mexico’s Gulf coast, where smugglers sometimes transport migrants in open boats to avoid highway immigration checkpoints.

Four migrants were pulled alive from the ocean by rescuers after their 7.6-metre-long (25 feet) open boat apparently capsized off the coast. One person remained missing. All the passengers were believed to be from Honduras.

In another incident, immigration officials said last week that a man and his seven-year-old son were found dead in the Suchiate River, which marks the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Officials said the 36-year-old man and his son were from El Salvador.

In 2021, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded 1,248 migrants dead or missing in the Americas, the highest since the tracking began in 2014.

The majority, 728, died or disappeared along the US-Mexico border, with the IOM saying the “main direct causes of death” along the border have been drowning in the Rio Grande or harsh environmental conditions.

Rights groups have particularly pointed to Title 42, a COVID-19 health rule that allows US officials to turn away asylum seekers at the US border. They say the inability to apply for asylum at legal points of entry has forced more people to attempt the dangerous land and water crossings into the US.

The Biden administration has sought to end the policy, a move that has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies