YUMA — The excessive heat may still be weeks away. But in Yuma County, the Sheriff’s Office sees the warning signs of a deadly summer.
Along the border just outside of Yuma, a volunteer prepares bags of fruit, snacks and water to hand out to immigrants as they illegally enter the United States. “We have oranges, something salty. This project has been going on for a couple of months now,” she says without looking up.
To the east of Yuma, there is no humanitarian welcome along a nearly 18 mile stretch of desert linking an area known as the Foothills to the town of Wellton.
“It’s a big remote area and we believe a lot of people aren’t expecting to walk that much or believe it’s closer to what they’re expecting to actually travel,” said Yuma County Sheriff Department spokesperson Tania Pavlak.
So far this year the Yuma Sheriff Department has recovered 11 bodies from that desert region. “Unfortunately, we expect a rise in deaths in remote desert area. That’s where people are trying to come across undetected,” Pavlak said.
According to the Tucson-based Humane Borders, 42 total migrants have died this year crossing into Arizona. Humane Borders says the remains of a record 226 immigrants were recovered in 2021.