Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Death on the Border Chapter 1001: Documenting The Dead On The Arizona Border


Michel Marizco on Fronteras reminds us of a common occurrence along the U.S./Mexico border:  death.

On August 8 of this year, a U.S. Border Patrol agent tracking a group of migrants from Mexico came upon the lonely remains of a person who had likely crossed the border into the U.S. some time ago. The remains were scattered, incomplete and the person they once comprised, was unidentified, unknown. It’s an old story in this quiet desert.   A slow and lonesome death.

Smugglers are paid to guide people through trails but often leave clients behind in the rush to keep moving and avoid detection. Some migrants choose to bypass the enterprising criminal networks and go it alone. But in doing so, they risk the possibility of becoming overwhelmed by the magnitude of a long walk through hard country. This desert holds bones and it guards their identity like secrets.

The bodies of nearly 900 people remain unidentified in Pima County, Arizona, the result of years of illegal border crossings that funneled people through the Arizona desert. Now, a new program is underway at the Pima County Medical Examiner in Tucson to use DNA to match those remains to thousands of people who’ve been reported missing.


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