migrant death arizona In this May 19, 2021 file photo the border wall stretches along the landscape near Sasabe, Ariz. The bodies of an unusually large number of migrants who died in Arizona's borderlands are being recovered this summer amid record temperatures that are regularly soaring above 110 degrees in the state's sun scorched desert and rugged mountains.
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin,File)

At least 160 people have died as a result of an encounter with a border agent since January 2010.

US Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona on March 18 issued a letter to Inspector General Joseph Cuffari of the US Department of Homeland Security requesting independent investigations into deaths involving the US Border Patrol. 

Grijalva is demanding to know how and why migrant Carmelo Cruz-Marcos was killed on Feb. 19 near Cochise County. Additionally, the congressman is seeking an investigation into the Border Patrol vehicle pursuit in Santa Cruz County that resulted in the death of two and injury of four unnamed migrants in a rollover crash on March 7. He’s also requesting to be notified when individuals die in Border Patrol custody, especially in Arizona.

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“It is reprehensible and unacceptable that these incidents have occurred,” Grijalva stated. “The agents responsible must be held accountable, and these migrants and their families deserve justice.”

According to the Southern Border Communities Coalition, since January 2010, at least 160 people have died as a result of an encounter with a border agent. “Many more people have been brutalized,” the organization tweeted. “The fact that no border agent has ever been successfully prosecuted is not accidental. It is by design. This must end and Congress can play a pivotal role.”

In fiscal year 2020—the latest Border Patrol data available—247 migrants in total died at the US-Mexico border, and 49 of those deaths occurred in Arizona. 

Cruz-Marcos, a 32-year-old father of three from Puebla, Mexico, was apprehended by Border Patrol agents as he trekked through Skull Canyon alongside a group of migrants. An unidentified border patrol agent shot Cruz-Marcos an unknown number of times after Cruz-Marcos allegedly picked up a rock and made a throwing motion, according to Grijalva’s office. The autopsy report released by Pima County Medical Examiner shows that Cruz-Marcos was hit by two bullets in the cheek, one in the chest, and one in the abdomen. 

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Last week, Arizonans held a vigil for Cruz-Marcos in Douglas. The Arizona Daily Star reported that his family in Mexico watched the vigil virtually. “I want justice,” his mother said. “My heart hurts for what they did to my son. My grandchildren are suffering. My son was going to seek a better life for his children.”

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