Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Alarming Border Death Count Continues Unabated, Ignored

--Arizona Recovered Remains Reach 153--

The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2009 has reached 153, according to the Tucson-based CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos. They compiled the data from medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties in an attempt to reflect more accurately the human cost of brutal U.S. border and immigration policies.

While the U.S. politics is engaged in a one-sided discussion around "security" and "enforcement," border communities continue to witness tragedy and death on the Mexico border. Political leaders largely ignore the situation.

Ever since the first 14 deaths along the Arizona border in 1995, Derechos Humanos has clamored for justice. Fifteen years and more than 2,000 deaths later, there's still no end in sight to the unnecessary carnage.

The count to date includes 98 males, 19 females, and 36 of unknown gender. The identities of about 107 of the recovered bodies remain unknown, almost 70% of the total recovered thus far this fiscal year. That represents a 22.4% increase from last year.

'Unknown gender' indicates that not enough of a body was recovered to determine gender. Without costly DNA testing it's impossible to know even that most basic information about the deceased. That make identification and return of the body to the family almost impossible.

The dramatic increase in these unknown gender cases are a troubling indicator of a growing trend. Heightened border security pushes potential border crossers into increasingly isolated areas. Rescue and detection are less likely and death more certain in remote, dangerous areas.

No one knows how many more remains lie near the yet undiscovered.

The continued increase in the recovery of skeletal remains indicates that more and more individuals are being funneled into more isolated and desolate terrain of the Arizona-Sonora border. This "Funnel Effect," documented by the Binational Migration Institute, demonstrates that sealing traditional crossing points pushes migration into the deadliest areas. The full extent of this crisis is not known as the numbers of human remains recovered in neighboring border states are not available.

It's time for meaningful and honest dialogue on migration and our responsibilities in the matter. This dialogue must not avoid the most critical question: Will the deaths continue?

While these deaths and the policies that fuel them are unconscionable, equally troubling are the calluses that have grown on the hearts of those that continue to ignore the human toll.

We are all human beings, brothers and sisters who must share the earth. The death and abuse of the least of us will eventually hurt us all.

The complete list of recovered remains is available on the CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos website: They provided the information which is reprinted with their full permission.

Image credit: Phil Nesmith Copyright 1966.


matt said...

I am grateful that we get to partner with you, one who not only laments for the oppressed and hurting but also takes action against the injustices of our world!

Sending hope, peace and rest to your heart, hermana!

Border Explorer said...

Gracias, Compa. Much love to you guys! Just knowing you gives me hope.

Lisa said...

I read stories like this and wonder what is wrong with us? Keep on getting the word out, B.E.

Spadoman said...

Thanks for posting this informative article. I can't help but realize that if these people were white, they could cross without trepidation. Why the difference in borders, for instance, Canada versus Mexico.
Shoeldn't we spend billions of dollars making Mexico strong and vibrant instead of spending on war and destruction?
A good neighbor would be a blessing. I'd go there and look for a job. Misplaced priorities I guess.

Great work Billie.


Tim said...

That we stop in our tracks when the Dow is mentioned and glide by real-life data such as these reveals where our hearts are. It's too easy not to see lost lives, but objectified "losses." We don't know who these people are, so they're "concepts," not "facts" we need to deal with.

But aren't the companies we buy stock in also "concepts"? I've actually walked the halls of a lot of the names in my portfolio and still don't have a real sense of them. Yet their data are so real to us, while we can remove ourselves from numbers like those here.

I shudder.

Thanks, Billie and keep up the good fight!


Border Explorer said...

Time and again I've been so touched by the comments left on this blog. And this is another of those times. I am so very grateful for your supportive and insightful comments...every one of them (you!). What a gift! Thanks so much!