/ Modified sep 20, 2013 9:31 a.m.

Border Deaths Up From Last Year, Pima County Figures Show

Medical examiner's office reports 148 migrant deaths so far, compared to 125 at this time in 2012.

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The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner has recorded 148 migrant deaths in the desert this year.

The figures are an increase from last year's, which showed 125 border deaths at this time.

The office handles the remains of people who are believed to have died while attempting to cross into Arizona from Mexico.

“The take-home message is that these are too many deaths...they’re in the hundreds...they aren’t changing, (and haven't changed in a decade)," said Robin Reineke, director of the Missing Migrant Project, a nonprofit that works with the county to identify migrant remains. "...unfortunately, we’re seeing spikes in southern Texas (too).”

Reineke said the number of deaths in Southern Arizona has remained steady over the last decade, and dips and spikes in the numbers don’t affect the overall trend.

She said the medical examiner's office sees an average of 170 migrant fatalities a year, and the primary cause of death is exposure to the elements and dehydration.

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