Since the U.S. Border Patrol first began tracking migrant deaths in 1998, fiscal 2021 was the deadliest on record. Five hundred and fifty-seven migrants perished trying to illegally enter the United States through the Southern border, an increase from the two prior fiscal years when the mortality count was 254 and 300, respectively.

The 23-year deceased-at-the-border total is about 7,000.

Those tragic totals likely are an undercount because when state and local law enforcement find bodies near the border, they often don’t interact with federal authorities.

In their determination to reach the United States, migrants die from hypothermia and dehydration. Some lose their way and die alone.

But since Border Patrol began keeping an official count of those whose northbound journeys ended in heartbreak for their families, the White House under several administrations has been oblivious to the thousands of lives lost.

Also excluded from the official Border Patrol body count, but unquestionably attributable to President Joe Biden’s administration’s defiance toward border enforcement, are the 54 dead and 58 injured in a human smuggling operation that ended in a truck crash.

The truck carried people from Mexico, the Northern Triangle, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. It crashed rounding a curve in southern Mexico, and sent 166 travelers bound for the United States tumbling to the pavement. Most of the dead were Guatemalans.

From the North, Canadian experts issued a “warning shot” that illegal immigration into the United States will inevitably spike.

Kathryn Bryk Friedman, a University at Buffalo law professor and immigration expert, said the deaths of four migrants, including a baby and a teen, are evidence that some people will endure unforgiving winter weather to reach this country. The deaths in Mexico and in Canada are directly attributable to the Biden administration’s open borders, Northern and Southern.

Not all the deaths occur when migrants fail to reach the United States. Drug traffickers, the Mexican cartels, have directly contributed to the nearly 79,000 fentanyl deaths of people between the ages of 18 and 45 — 37,208 in 2020 and 41,587 in 2021.

With the Border Patrol hamstrung by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, drug smugglers can ply their multibillion-dollar business with little interference.

In recent years, a favorite phrase among the political class — including Biden — to defend its indefensible immigration policies is to say, “This is not who we are. America is better than this.”

Collectively, Americans are good, and perhaps better than most who have occupied the White House in the last few decades. But Biden, like other presidents before him who likewise failed on immigration, has the power to end the needless border deaths, and sharply reduce overdose fatalities.

Biden could ensure strict enforcement at the border and in the interior, and implement mandatory E-Verify, the program that assures that only legally authorized workers remain employed. E-Verify removes the jobs magnet that lures many to the United States.

The White House is making no effort to end the border and trafficking crises, though. Instead, Biden’s inner circle is talking about initiating policies that will motivate more illegal immigration.

Biden and Mayorkas dropped the wildly unpopular idea to give $450,000 per person to every illegal alien allegedly separated from his family at the border. With the cash giveaway lead balloon dead, Biden’s team proposed that the separated aliens be granted, through congressional legislation, permanent legal status.

The Biden-Mayorkas proposal is their first salvo in a mutually shared quest to legalize every illegal alien, previously deported or not. Congress, entering the final months before the Nov. 8 midterm election, is unlikely to pass legislation that would give Green Cards to deported aliens.

But an uncooperative Congress won’t stop Mayorkas. His next ploy might be to write a memo to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recommending the change of status, and pressuring his subordinates to sign and implement it.

Immigration law by fiat is a Mayorkas specialty, just like his ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop workplace actions even though hiring illegal immigrants is a crime.

To Biden, Mayorkas and the White House advisers, thousands of border deaths, illegal immigrant crimes and overdose fatalities — all preventable with a commitment to enforcement — are inconsequential.

The Biden administration’s first priority is facilitating more illegal immigration, rewarding aliens when they cross into the United States.

— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at, or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Joe Guzzardi

Joe Guzzardi

Joe Guzzardi is a nationally syndicated columnist writing about immigration and related social issues. A California native who now lives in Pittsburgh, he’s a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who can be reached at The opinions expressed are his own.