LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- As of January 1st, 2023, Doña Ana County has recorded 56 deaths of undocumented immigrants found in the desert, more than double the amount seen in previous years.
"We have this every year, to some extent, but nothing like this," Sheriff Kim Stewart told ABC-7.
Sheriff Stewart said her department began really paying attention to the issue in June, because though this has been a bad weather year, historically, the numbers would be dropping off early June to August. But this year that hasn't been the case.
"There were days in June and July where we were having one every day. And the facts are that border Patrol is find them more inland, and closer to populated areas," said Stewart.
So why is this happening? The Sheriff has a theory.
"Well, let's look at our neighbors, Texas and Arizona. Right, wrong or indifferent, they have very proactive steps about stopping immigration or migration into their states. Well, what it's doing is it's forcing these populations, migratory populations, into other pathways."
She added, "We have very harsh conditions. So it's not only the heat, but our neighbors are forcing these populations into a smaller funnel into the United States."
Stewart said she has spoken with state leaders to bring attention to the issue, and see how they might help address it.