(CNN)Natividad Quinto Crisóstomo was dreaming of reuniting with her husband in Arkansas when she died in an irrigation canal near the United States-Mexico border fence.
The 19-year-old from the Mexican state of Michoacán is among the nearly dozen people who have drowned in El Paso-area canals this month as the region deals with an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border. Only 11 canal drownings were reported in 2018 alone, said Enrique Aguilar, a spokesperson for the El Paso County Fire Department.
The rise of drownings in West Texas canals is another example of the perilous journey migrants take to get to the US. Earlier this week, the image of a Salvadoran father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned as they were crossing from Mexico into Texas near Brownsville renewed the debate over border policy.
On Wednesday, the body of Quinto Crisóstomo was discovered floating in a canal that runs parallel to the Rio Grande near Clint, Texas, a spokesman with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said.
Quinto Crisóstomo had traveled more than 1,000 miles north after leaving her 2-year-old daughter with her husband's family in central Mexico. Despite her parent's disapproval, she joined a group of her husband's relatives on the trip to the US, Jose Luis Gutierrez Perez, head of the secretary of migrant rights in the state of Michoacán, told CNN.
At least seven other people, including a preschool-aged girl, have been found dead in canals and water tunnels in the past three weeks.
While authorities have not released the names or nationalities of most of the victims, water officials and migrant rights advocates believe most of them were migrants.
Many of the deaths were reported in irrigation canals that run parallel to the border fence and the river that divides the US and Mexico, said Jesus Reyes, the general manager for El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1, the agency that maintains and operates the canals.
It's hard for residents to come near the canal, Reyes said, because the canal system is far away from roadways and surrounded by multiple fences on both sides.
"But if you