Undocumented Central American immigrants, especially Guatemalans, crossing the Arizona border during fiscal year 2013 increased considerably, according to Border Patrol records.
From Oct. 1 to May 1, the arrests of 14,198 undocumented Central American immigrants were reported, 2,873 more than during the same period of fiscal year 2012, data of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector show.
"We're seeing more and more immigration traffic," Maria Jimena Diaz Gonzalez, consul general for Guatemala in Arizona, told Efe, adding that these migrants increasingly use routes in the most remote, inhospitable areas of the desert.
"I think we have to wait a little longer to see if this is a trend or just a momentary phenomenon," Diaz said.
Undocumented Central American immigrants have traditionally tried to cross into Texas rather than Arizona.
Diaz Gonzalez attributes the route change to the massacres of migrants in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, bordering Texas.
After the discovery two years ago in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, of secret graves holding at least 193 people, mostly Central Americans, migrants began looking for other paths.
"The strengthening of border security is another factor that makes migrants look for more hidden places to cross," the consul general said.
The diplomat said the consulate offers various aid programs for its compatriots, including the search for migrants who go missing.
"Some have even called us on their own cell phones, telling us they have been left stranded in the desert by people traffickers, so with that information we can help rescue groups go find them," she said. EFE