Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports that 294 illegal aliens died crossing our southern border in federal fiscal year (FY) 2017.
CBP additionally notes in its yearly statistical report that "U.S. Border Patrol agents also rescued 3,221 illegal migrants in danger and, in some cases, life-threatening situations."
The 294 deaths, while a disturbing number, apparently represent an 11 percent drop in deaths from last year. The thing to remember, though, is that the figure is without doubt a significant undercount.
First, recognize that the deaths only represent the number of bodies recovered. How many more bodies were dragged by coyotes or other predators to their dens to be eaten at leisure, and how many corpses were picked down to the bone by crows, vultures, and other scavengers in remote wilderness locations?
Next, keep in mind that an unknown number die on the Mexican side of our shared border in equally remote and inaccessible locations, and are simply left as cadavers by their smuggling guides, never to be counted by officialdom.
Then, recollect that others almost certainly die on Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, or on Guatemala's northern border — or, indeed, anywhere along the route for the tens of thousands of Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, and others who yearly attempt the trek. They are not to be found in that 294 figure; they are a part of the unacknowledged overhead of this constant illegal movement in human beings al norte.
Finally, we need to acknowledge that a certain number become victims of the smugglers themselves, or even of corrupt police and border officials in Mexico and Central America. They are killed because they cannot pay adequate bribes; or because they decline to carry drugs or sexually service the cartel-member guides or officials; or because their families can't come up with the last-minute extortionate demand for additional fees for delivery, leading to execution to send a message to others.
In sum, the real count must certainly be on the high side of at least a thousand or two, not simply 294. And, as is evident from the recently released FY 2017 figures, a good portion of those making the trek — and paying the ultimate price — are women and children. Children and families represented nearly half of the 310,531 apprehensions made in FY 2017.
Why do they keep coming? Because they hope to blend with others already here, and even more, they hope fervently that they will be a part of some future amnesty deal negotiated by our Congress.
So when you hear politicians saying that we "owe" someone an amnesty, keep those deaths, past, present, and future, in mind. That is the real cost of amnesty.