John Washington: The risk isn’t happenstance: US Border Patrol policy intentionally pushes migrants into crossing in regions where they are more likely to suffer and die. An analogous policy in the interior of the country would be rerouting a sidewalk to force pedestrians to hazard straight across a busy highway, and chasing them with armed helicopters as they do so.
The agent, after scanning the hills, looking up and back down the trail, squatted to inspect the cache. The water bottles had hearts drawn on them, as well as uplifting messages written in Spanish: Agua Pura, ¡Ánimo! ¡Que Vayan con Suerte! He shifted his rifle and awkwardly readjusted his squat. Then he took out his knife and began lining up the water bottles. One by one, he stabbed them, sticking in his knife and then pulling it back out along with a little gulp of water. He stabbed all eight bottles. The water bled out, soaking the dirt.
When you die of dehydration or heat stroke—the most common causes of death among border crossers in southern Arizona—you go insane. Lack of water in your body leads to hypovolemia, insufficient blood in your circulatory system, which dries out your brain. Your skin begins to shrivel, and your body redirects blood away from non-vital organs. Then—without your kidneys working as a filter—your own blood begins to poison you. Without enough water to sweat, your entire body becomes feverish; by then your brain is not only drying out, it is cooking. Severe exertional heat illness—because, somehow, you’re still walking north—leads to vomiting, dizziness, disorientation, and the breakdown of the heart muscle. The pain is slow, complete. Your tongue begins to whiten and swell, and you strip off your clothes, stumble through the thorns and shin daggers, until, finally, you prostrate yourself to the blaze of the sun. In the desert, the chain of causation is short—a day without water, then your corpse is torn apart by animal scavengers. The bottles of water that agent was stabbing may just as well have been the border crossers’ necks. More here.