Thursday, December 15, 2011

Migrant Deaths Along the Arizona-Mexico Border Continue

From Breakthrough:

New video documents shocking rate of migrant deaths in Arizona desert

NEW YORK, NY – December 15 – Innovative global human rights organization Breakthrough today released DESERTED: THE HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS ON OUR SOIL, a brief video vividly depicting the scale and impact of migrant deaths in the Arizona desert.

Just this Monday, the United States Supreme Court said it would review Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law (S.B. 1070). On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked part of Alabama’s immigration law (H.B. 56), considered the toughest in the nation.

Yet as debate rages in courts and communities about those migrants who do make it here, scant attention is paid to those who do not, say advocates.

“Thousands of people are starving, suffering and dying on our own soil. Families are destroyed every day. This crisis transcends the particulars of the immigration debate. It demands humanitarian aid and humane reform. And it challenges us to reaffirm the true American values of family and dignity,” said Mallika Dutt, president and CEO of Breakthrough.

The remains of at least 6,000 migrants have been found on U.S. desert land since U.S.-Mexico border policies were implemented in the 1990s. Some groups estimate that for each set of remains recovered, those of 10 more people are lost to the harsh desert elements. Advocates and authorities attribute the escalating number of deaths not only to rising heat but also to ever-tightening border security that forces migrants into more remote and dangerous terrain.

DESERTED includes chilling images of a Tucson morgue in which row after row of body bags contain John and Jane Does whose families may never know what happened to them. DESERTED calls on viewers — who may hold diverse opinions about U.S. immigration — to recognize these deaths as a humanitarian emergency and call for an end to this human rights crisis.

Breakthrough has released DESERTED in advance of the United Nations’ International Migrants Day, observed annually on December 18 to recognize the efforts, contributions and rights of migrants worldwide. Activist groups featured in the video are the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), and VAMOS Unidos. The video urges viewers to learn more about and take action to end this crisis by visiting No More Deaths ( and Coalición de Derechos Humanos (

DESERTED may be viewed here:

This history of Operation Gatekeeper is covered in my text: Defning American Through Immigration Policy.


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