SAN DIEGO — Due to growing concern over the number of Mexican nationals injured and even killed while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego is speaking out.
Monday morning, Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez sat with CBS 8 for a rare interview addressing the topic.
"Our conclusions are based on empirical evidence," said Gutierrez. "We think the people should know about the human costs of the wall."
According to his office, in 2022, 42 Mexican nationals died while trying to cross the San Diego border. In 2021, he said there were 41. However, in 2020, he said, there were just 16 deaths.
Gutierrez said the data showed in 2022, 80% of people who were injured while trying to cross the border have been attributed to people falling off the border wall.
Last spring, UC San Diego released a study that found since 2019, there's been a five-time increase in the number of high-severity injuries occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trauma physicians attributed it to the height increase of the wall. In some places, it increased from 17 feet to 30 feet.
Gutierrez said it would be inappropriate to comment on whether or not he believes the height of the wall should be lowered. He said he wants Mexican nationals who are thinking of trying to cross between the ports of entry to understand the danger.
"We think migrants are being misled by people who convince them that it is easy and not dangerous to cross the border between ports of entry," he said.
He said the numbers show how urgent the situation is. He said he believes it is a shared responsibility of governments throughout the region to find a secure, legal and safe way of migration for people who will continue to try and cross.
Though critics argue migrants shouldn’t be trying to cross illegally in the first place, Gutierrez said, "I hear people say, ‘Well, they should just make a line and wait their turn on a legal basis.’ We need to remind people the system is broken. For example, for a Mexican national, that line means waiting 20 plus years, and if you are a father or mother of children on this side or the other way around, it is only human you will try to cross this border in an undocumented way.”
He said it would continue to happen because there are plenty of jobs in this economy in the United States, and the disparity in terms of income is still significant.
The Mexican Consulate is part of the Border Wall Fall Injury Prevention Working Group, where trauma injury prevention coordinators from the central San Diego trauma centers, social workers, academics, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders monitor and analyze incidents, as well as prevention opportunities while creating a more robust network for assisting the injured.
Gutierrez said relatives who wish to obtain information regarding injured or missing people could call the Center for Information and Attention to Mexicans (CIAM, by its acronym in Spanish) in the USA at 520-623-7874 or the Consulate's emergency line at 619-843-6399 or even email email@example.com
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