La surveillance compte les morts : le CBP signale 895 décès de migrants en 2022

Tracking reveals number of deaths: CBP announces 895 migrant deaths in 2022

The dramatic rise in migrant deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border raises serious concerns about existing surveillance policies and practices. Recently, data revealed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shed light on a shocking reality: at least 895 people lost their lives in fiscal year 2022 while attempting to cross the border, marking an alarming increase in 57% compared to the previous year. Tragically, this statistic may even be underestimated.

Officials have traditionally attributed this tragic rise to factors such as summer heat, there harshness of the desert terrain, and the cruelty of smugglers, who abandon migrants to their fate. But beyond these elements, the constant expansion of CBP’s surveillance capabilities plays a significant role in this problem. Indeed, a University of Arizona study found a significant correlation between the location of surveillance technologies, the routes taken by migrants and the location of human remains found in the southern Arizona desert. By pushing people into more hostile terrain, surveillance aims to deter crossings, but it also increases risks to migrants’ lives.

This situation is made worse by the use of policies such as Title 42, established under the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic, but which has served as a tool to deport many migrants to Mexico without a hearing, adding additional danger to their journey. Despite its repeal, the debate over border control remains lively, and new measures similar to those of Title 42 are still being considered, under the pretext of managing migratory flows.

What is also striking is the level of technology employed by CBP, including Predator drones, and a network of surveillance cameras allowing a detailed view of movements in the desert, from air-conditioned offices. These tools, designed as “force multipliers”, reinforce the effectiveness of surveillance but at the same time increase the risks for migrants, forcing them to take even more dangerous routes.

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The border between the United States and Mexico, with its daunting desert expanses and extreme temperatures, has always been a perilous crossing point for those seeking a better life. But the perfect storm shaped by intrusive surveillance policies, punitive eviction measures and increasingly extreme climatic conditions unfortunately promises to continue. Despite technical and legislative developments, the hope of seeing the number of tragedies decrease seems slim without a significant change in policy and better consideration of human rights in migration management.