Friday, October 22, 2010

Record Deaths Recorded This Year on Arizona Border

The second highest recorded total of human bodies were recovered this year on the Arizona -Sonora border. The total recovered is 253 for the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2009 and ended September 30, 2010, reports Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a Tucson-based human rights group.  The data, compiled from medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties, shows the "human cost of expensive and lethal U.S. border and immigration policies," says the group.

In 1994, Arizona recorded fourteen known migrant deaths. Sixteen years later, the total is eighteen times that number. It marks, the group calculates, an increase of 1,707%. 

The final count includes 170 males, 32 females, and 4 minors. Approximately 156, or 61.7% of the total recovered are of unknown identity, an indication that the body when recovered was too decomposed to determine even  the gender of the deceased.  Countries represented in the final count include México, Guatemala, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.

This figure is higher than last year's total of 206 remains recovered, and while the true total number of deaths on the border is impossible to calculate, Derechos Humanos has documented at least 2,104 deaths on the Arizona- Sonora border since 2000. The number of remains recovered in neighboring states and south of the border is not currently available.

Activists are alarmed by the staggering increase in the number of remains of unknown gender.  Three years ago, that number was 5. The following year, it climbed to 19. Last year the total was 31, but this year the number stands at 51, an incredible 20% of the total recovered. 
It is unconscionable that our government not only continues with these policies of border militarization, but openly brags about increasing those efforts.

Unknown gender indicates that not enough of the remains were recovered to determine gender, and without DNA, it is impossible to know even this basic information about the individual, making identification and return to their families even more difficult.  The dramatic increase in these unknown gender cases are a troubling indicator of what is to come, as people are pushed out into more and more isolated areas, making rescue and detection less likely, and the likelihood of death more certain.

There is information to suggest that the migration flow patterns are shifting due to 
the Funnel Effect, which has been documented by the Binational Migration Institute.  The high number of skeletal remains recovered this year, 59 (23.3% of total) support this likely shift in migration flow, and it is possible that the long periods of time before being recovered indicates that people are crossing in more isolated and desolate areas, with less chance of rescue or discovery.  It is unknown how many remains are currently near the border but have not yet been discovered, and it is probable that some of these remains will never be recovered.

For over a decade, border communities have demanded change to the policies that funnel hundreds of men, women and children to their deaths every year.  Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security receives an annual influx of power and funding. Their financial resources could further real security in our communities: education, health care and economic development. Instead, they have become instruments of death.

This, in effect, wages a war--not only on immigrants, but also on the inhabitants of border communities. Indigenous peoples find their lands red with the blood of native brethren. Border security infrastructure destroys the environment, rendering the homes of desert plants and animals uninhabitable. People of conscience see death becoming horrifyingly normalized every day by our leaders and politicians.

We stand united in grief and resolution over these unnecessary deaths, as we witness the fatal policies of division and xenophobia that continue to invade our borderlands.

The complete list of recovered bodies is available on the Coalición de Derechos Humanos website.


Dianne said...

I can see why you needed a laugh - thanks for visiting my silly post :) it was good to see ya

I have been posting mostly silliness lately, there's such a weight on my soul from the way things are going - my town is being taken over by Tea Party loons, trees are being cut down and then nothing is built anyway, and my own personal struggle with the disability insurance racket is exhausting

of course all that then pales in the face of a story like this and I am once again grateful for my life and I take another deep breath and push on, wondering what is the next way I can try to help

you have that effect on people, it's a beautiful thing about you

many hugs

a211423 said...

Dia de los Muertas on November 2 this year will have special significance as the deaths you speak of here can be remembered with reverance even though they are anonymous.

Like the previous person Dianne said, we can be grateful for what we have. My tribulations are nothing compared to the daily suffering of those on the border.

Border Explorer said...

Dianne, I sorta choked up upon reading your comment. Thank you so much. I'm sorry for the sadness and strife you're facing, and--yes--even so we still have it so good in comparison to the subsistence struggle of most of the world. Many hugs back as we try to remember what is most important in this world--no the least of which, of course, is the love of our grandchildren!

a211423, I also was thinking of Dia de Los Muertos. Those of us who have altars in our homes ought to include remembrances of these who died horrible deaths. So many left behind loved ones who will never know what happened to them. I don't have to know them personally to be very sad.

Bless both of you wonderful women for reading this and taking the time to comment here. Love to you both!