19-migrants-border A depth gauge is seen in the Río Grande on Jan. 29, 2020 in Presidio, Texas.
Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

Each year, migrants face incredible danger trying to cross the border. Hundreds are killed or die because of the harsh conditions.

They were traveling from Guatemala to the United States for a better life. The last day their relatives in Guatemala heard from them was on Thursday. On Saturday, Jan. 23, they heard that 19 migrants had been found dead near the US-Mexico border. 

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Mario Gálvez, representative of the town of San Marcos, Guatemala, identified the 19 dead and said their families have been notified.

“I have already contacted the authorities of Minex, Guatemala so that all the necessary attention is given to the families to support the repatriation of the bodies of these countrymen, victims of insecurity and in search of their dreams. RIP,” Gálvez said on Facebook. 

Among the dead is 22-year-old Marvin Alberto Tomás, a soccer player with Juventud Comiteca, a third division team in Nacional de Guatemala’s league. 

On Friday, Jan. 22, a Mexican official said that he had found the bodies of 19 people on a dirt road outside Camargo, a town across the Río Grande from Texas. Residents nearby had reported a car on fire. However, he didn’t report it until the following day because he was afraid, according to The Associated Press (AP). 

He contactado ya a las autoridades del Minex Guatemala, para que se preste toda la atención necesaria a las familias…

Posted by Mario Gálvez Diputado San Marcos on Sunday, January 24, 2021

Mexican authorities say the 19 dead had been shot but that the shooting had occurred elsewhere because no shell casings were found on the site. They also report that the bodies were charred in the fire. 

The Mexico state of Tamaulipas, where the bodies were found, is plagued with violence and cartel activity. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) reported staggering statistics of violence and murders in Tamaulipas. OSAC says that generally, crime is either underreported or not tracked with any consistency.

However, there were 1,451 recorded murders in Tamaulipas in 2019. Additionally, there were 2,548 cases of aggravated assault reported that same year. The secretary of public security reported 31 kidnappings and 25 kidnappings for ransom in Tamaulipas, and 1,399 reported sex crimes in 2019.

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The AP reports that during January of 2020, 21 bodies, most burned, were found in various vehicles near the neighboring town of Ciudad Mier. Days later, the Mexican army killed 11 alleged shooters in the area.

But deaths along the border are not solely related to violence. Each year, hundreds of migrants die trying to cross the harsh terrain along the US-Mexico border. The Missing Migrants Project (MMP) reports 2,403 deaths since 2014, including 497 in 2019.

“These numbers are a sad reminder that the lack of options for safe and legal mobility pushes people onto more invisible and riskier paths, putting them at greater danger”, Frank Laczko, director of the International Organization for Migration’s’s Data Analysis Centre, told the United Nations News last year.