The now iconic photo
of Valeria, 23-months old, and her father Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez drowned in the Rio Grande after trying to seek asylum and failing, and then trying to swim from Mexico to the United States and ultimately dying, sparked debate among the primary Democrat candidates and the wider public over immigration policy.
According to the most recent data, 283 migrants died at the Southwest border last year. Experts predict that the combination of the hot summer and surge in migration
will lead to an increase in migrant deaths this year. In 2019, 315 migrants were rescued by Border Patrol agents, with four months left in the fiscal year. By comparison, just 12 migrants were rescued at the border in all FY2018.
The deadliest year for migrant deaths dates to 2005 when Border Patrol Agents found 492 migrants dead. That rise correlates with a surge in migrant apprehensions, though 2019 is on pace to surpass the number of migrants apprehended in 2005.