The remains of at least 214 people who died attempting to cross the Mexico-Arizona border have been recovered so far in 2020, and advocates blame extreme heat, the AP reports. The figure is just 10 shy of the overall annual record from 2010, according to the nonprofit Humane Borders and the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office, which together map recoveries of human remains. This year saw extreme heat — a hallmark signal of human-caused climate change — across the American West. Phoenix, Arizona endured its hottest summer on record with 144 days in triple digits and an average daily temperature around 110°F throughout July and August.
Those months were also the state’s driest on record. Trump’s border wall also likely contributed to the uptick in deaths. “The wall has sent a lot of people to rough terrain in our area,” Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, a critic of the president and advocate for greater compassion in immigration policy whose jurisdiction includes Nogales, Arizona, told the AP. “It’s like driving livestock into a canyon where they ultimately die.” (AP; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)