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Deaths along the Arizona border spiked as temperatures soared in July

Just like other parts of the state, southern Arizona saw a spate of scorching summer temperatures in July. Rights advocates monitoring the border say that the brutal heat wave had deadly consequences for migrants and asylum seekers crossing the desert. 

A count by the aid group Humane Borders found that 42 bodies were recovered in Arizona’s borderlands last month alone. 

That's almost as much as another grim milestone in 2020 — when the Pima County coroner reported a single month record of 43 bodies recovered that June.

Dora Rodriguez leaves water and other aid along the border as a Humane Borders volunteer.

"Our borderlands never stop seeing people crossing, even with that heat," she said. 

Rodriguez says one of the July deaths was a woman whose body was found next to an empty water tank for cattle. Twenty-two of the people found that month were estimated to have died in the same day. Rodriguez says many of the people crossing through Arizona's borderland now are trying to come to the U.S. and work., meaning they wouldn’t be allowed to ask for asylum in the U.S. at a port of entry. 

"Those are the migrants who really have no hope," she said. 

A study on migrant deaths by UCLA in 2021 found at least at least 3,800 people have died crossing the Arizona borderland between 1998 and 2019.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.