Monday, January 13, 2020

Identifying the Bodies of Migrants

From: The Guardian

Dr. Kate Spradley is the director of Operation Identification (OpID), a project that works with governmental and non-governmental organizations to identify migrant bodies found near the Texas-Mexico border in hopes of repatriating their remains to their loved ones who only know that they headed north from mostly South or Central America or Mexico and then disappeared.

The project is attempting to tackle the problem of such deaths, the numbers of which surge and dip over the years and are hard to confirm, but are always distressingly high, and the very patchy systems for recording and dealing with them. . . .

Since 1999 at least 7,500 are believed to have died on the southern border, according to data from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). The Center for Public Integrity estimates that more than 2,000 of the deceased remain unidentified. Deaths are currently increasing.

The Missing Migrants Project, which tracks migrant deaths and disappearances globally, has recorded the deaths of 496 people trying to cross the border from Mexico to the US in 2019, of which 217 were in Texas.

“This is the highest total for border deaths we have recorded in any year since 2014,” said Kate Dearden, project officer for the Missing Migrant Project. She said only 114 people have been identified so far.

“That’s just 23%,” she added.

In the past decade hundreds of bodies have been buried haphazardly by county authorities, placed in unmarked mass graves without analysis or records of their location.



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