Santos Oroscos Aguilar, age 1, drowned. Eliseo Santos Carmona, 24, fell off a cliff. Modesta Lopez, 27, died of dehydration. The list goes on and on with hundreds of names of people who have died while trying to cross the 2,000 mile US-Mexican border.”It’s heartbreaking to see that people are going as far as to risk their lives to come to the United States,” said Xavier in Spanish as he watched a report on television on the deaths reported across the Mexican border.The death rate across the Californian and Mexican border since 1994 has increased by 500, percent reported The Los Angeles Times. By the latest count 620 people have died while attempting to cross into California since Operation Gatekeeper. In 1994, the US government, concerned with the growing number of illegal immigrants entering the border from the south, began a major crackdown on illegal immigration.Tall fences were built along the border south of San Diego, and the government doubled the number of border patrol agents around the most popular places immigrants use to cross the border. The number of people entering dropped along the San Diego area, but the numbers spread across other uncommon areas along California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.Watching footage of people running away from ‘La Migra’ as he calls the border patrol, brings back memories to Xavier, 54, a farm worker who crossed the Californian border illegally in 1967.”It’s exactly like that. If you saw a truck driving by or a guy in a green or brown uniform, you ran as fast as you could so that they couldn’t catch you,” he said with a growing smile.He left the state of Michoacan, Mexico when he was twenty years old, leaving behind his family and everything he knew in search for a better life, he says, like everyone else who crosses the border. “There was very little work in the town I lived in and when I did work, I didn’t make more than quarter a day.”He heard there were jobs across California, so he decided to leave his home. The first time he crossed the border was through a hole in a fence near San Diego.”It was dark, and I was with some friends. We found a hole and we just passed into the United States, but I was caught a year later in Live Oak by la migra and was sent back to Mexico,” he said. The second time he crossed the border he paid a coyote (an immigrant smuggler) $300 to get him across.With the beefed up border along San Diego and other popular sites, people are turning to more dangerous areas to cross into the US. Some Like Modesta Lopez have turned to the deserts in California, Arizona and Texas where there are days with plus 100-degree temperatures and freezing nights. Others turn to canals or rivers where their bodies are found floating because they didn’t reach the other side of the river.The Immigration Naturalization Service (INS) reported in 2000 that 369 immigrants died as they tried to cross the border. This number is up 60 percent from 1999. This report doesn’t include number of people murdered by Texan ranchers who hunt for illegal immigrants or the smugglers who kill and sometimes rape immigrants who pay them to get them across.”It’s becoming too dangerous for people to come over here. They get treated no better than animals,” said Petra who had a similar experience to Xavier’s. She borrowed a green card and tried crossing the border, but the border patrol agents apprehended her before she even crossed.”I was trying to cross with my mother-in-law who already had a green card. I thought I could get through with her, but instead I ended up in a Tijuana jail,” she said.The second time she paid a coyote to get her across. “I was in truck with some people I had never met. My husband paid this guy like five hundred dollars to get me over here. I was terrified because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said as she watched one of her Spanish soap operas.In the fiscal year 2000, INS reported apprehensions along the southwest border were over 1.6 million with voluntary return also at one 1.6 million. About 40 percent of illegal immigrants stay in California.”People may wonder why so many people are risking their lives to come to the U.S., but you have to realize that when you are making five dollars a day (Mexico’s minimum wage) and you are barely living on that, sometimes you have do whatever it takes to make your life better,” said Petra.Although most immigrants work by picking fruits across California and other parts of the U.S., Xavier says that what they make in one day working in the fields is almost what low income Mexican makes in one month.”If I was living in those conditions that some of these people are living in, I would cross the border in a minute,” he said.