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The decrease in the number of migrants crossing the southern border sparked speculation earlier this year that increased enforcement efforts in the United States, the Great Recession and better economic prospects in Mexico were causing Mexicans to stay home.

But a new poll conducted for The Dallas Morning News, its Spanish-language publication Al Dia, and the Mexican newspaper El Universal indicates that would-be migrants may be staying home because the trip has become more perilous than ever. Some fear they won't make it across the border alive. 

"The Zetas have done what no fence in the United States, or their billions, have been able to do, which is to stop the flow" of migrants, said Pedro "Toro," in an interview with The Morning News.

"Toro" was afraid to give his real last name because the Zetas, a paramilitary drug cartel, operates in the region, according to an article published on Tuesday in the Morning News.

"I'm not afraid of the 'migra,' " he said, referring to the U.S. Border Patrol, "but I am afraid of being decapitated."

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This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

This article is part of our Next America: Communities project, which is supported by a grant from Emerson Collective.

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