“To put this death toll in perspective, the fortified US border with Mexico has been more than 10 times deadlier to migrants from Mexico during the past nine years than the Berlin Wall was to East Germans throughout its 28-year existence.”
Professor Wayne Cornelius, University of California, San Diego
The immigration debate across the country has focused only on the undocumented who have made it through all the obstacles, natural and manmade, at our border with Mexico.
Yet, a very important part of this debate are all the migrants who never made it past our border to get to the point to be categorized as undocumented. It’s worse for them – they’re forgotten.
In honor of migrant border deaths
(Source: Arizona Indymedia.org)
Today, the American Immigration Forum released a new study titled A Humanitarian Crisis at the Border: New Estimates of Deaths Among Unauthorized Immigrants
It’s easy to discount border deaths as being the fault of those who were trying to cheat our system of justice, but there’s something wrong when people are systematically dying trying to free themselves of their own oppressive situation.
Researchers credit this increase of border deaths to what they call the “Funnel Effect.”
In the mid-1990s, the U.S. government implemented a “prevention through deterrence” approach to immigration control that has resulted in the militarization of the border and a quintupling of border-enforcement expenditures. However, the new border barriers, fortified checkpoints, high-tech forms of surveillance, and thousands of additional Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border have not decreased the number of unauthorized migrants crossing into the United States. Rather, the new strategy has closed off major urban points of unauthorized migration in Texas and California and funneled hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants through southern Arizona’s remote and notoriously inhospitable deserts and mountains.
And it’s there, in those remote areas, where men, women and children die when they just can’t take another step in the heat or stand the frigidity of the winter nights.
The medical examiners, to whom the bodies are brought, report that the majority of the deceased are under 40 and that there is a rising trend being seen of kids under the age of 18.
Altar to deceased migrant who died at the border
(Source: No mas muertes.org)
The saddest part of this is that these people who die in these remote areas are many times never identified. So, their families are left to forever wonder what happened to their queridos (loved ones).
It is a torture that no family deserves to be put through.
The report doesn’t advocate opening the borders for free passage.
What it does support is the necessity and urgency of an immigration reform bill that recognizes the role immigrant labor has in this country, and plans for accordingly.
Border deaths keep rising which can only mean that the people are continuing to come, regardless of how strict our laws are or how loud the threats of detention or deportation.
Isn’t it ironic that these migrants have no fear of death, but are petrified of the poverty that traps them?
There’s no wall tall enough or army big enough to stop that kind of fear from advancing.