EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The Border Network for Human Rights hosted a “Day of the Dead” procession and vigil Thursday evening, Nov. 2 to commemorate the hundreds of migrant lives lost during the fiscal year of 2023.

According to updated data released by Border Patrol this week, there were 148 migrant deaths recorded over the fiscal year 2023, compared to 71 the year prior.

The procession began at Sacred Heart Church, and made its way to Chihuahuita Park, where altars and crosses painted with the number “148” were set up to honor the record number of lives lost. 

BHNR said this is also a protest to call out Operation Lone Star and the methods employed through this initiative by Gov. Greg Abbott; condemning the use of razor wire trap, staged military vehicles, the use of water buoys and the deployment of approximately 10,000-armed National Guard soldiers and state troopers to the border.

KTSM spoke with Fernando Garcia, executive director of the BNHR of El Paso, who blames the “militaristic approach” by Texas, as the cause for the record-increase in migrant deaths. 

“All of that is what we call death by policy. So, they are dying not because they want to, they are being pushed to those situations due to this enforcement in the state of Texas. So, we don’t see any other relation, but a direct relationship between the number of people dying that has tripled from the last three years to today, but the relation with Operation Lone Star,” said Garcia.

According to Abott’s office, since the launch of the operation, the agencies involved have apprehended over 480,000 undocumented immigrants, with more than 35,700 criminal arrests.

The office says that operation continues to “fill the dangerous gaps” created by the Biden Administration’s border policies.