Alarming Border Death Count Continues Unabated and Ignored: Arizona Recovered Remains Reach 153

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Alarming Border Death Count Continues Unabated and Ignored:
Arizona Recovered Remains Reach 153

For Immediate Release July 7, 2010
Contact Kat Rodriguez: 520.770.1373

Arizona - The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2009 has reached 153, reports the Tucson-based Coalición de Derechos Humanos. The data is comprised of medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties, and is an attempt to reflect more accurately the human cost of brutal U.S. border and immigration policies.

While the U.S. body politics is engaged in a one-sided discussion around "security" and "enforcement," communities continue to witness tragedy and death on the U.S.-Mexico border. Rather than directly addressing this issue, politicians and most organizations have ignored it. Since 1995, when the first 14 deaths along the Arizona border occurred, Derechos Humanos has been a voice in the wilderness demanding justice. Fifteen years and more than 2,000 deaths later, there is no end in sight to the unnecessary carnage on the U.S.-México border.

The count to date includes ninety-eight (98) males, nineteen (19) females, and thirty-six (36) individuals of unknown gender. The identities of approximately one hundred seven (107) of the recovered individuals remain unknown, which is approximately 69.9% of the total recovered thus far this fiscal year. This number is a 22.4% increase from last year, when the total of recovered remains as of June 30, 2009 was one hundred twenty-five (125). Approximately thirty-six (36), or 23.5% of the remains were skeletal.

'Unknown gender' indicates that not enough of a body was recovered to determine gender, and without DNA, which is costly, 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 might be to come as people are pushed out into more and more isolated areas, making rescue and detection less likely and death more certain. It is unknown how many remains are currently near the border but have not yet been discovered.

The continued increase in the recovery of skeletal remains indicates that more and more individuals are being funneled into more isolated and desolate terrain of the Arizona-Sonora border. This "Funnel Effect," which has been documented by the Binational Migration Institute, has shown that the practice of sealing traditional crossing points ultimately pushes migration into the deadliest areas. The extent of this crisis is not known as the numbers of human remains recovered in neighboring states are not available.

We call on this Administration and this Congress to respond to their first responsibility as human beings, and call for an end to policies that violate basic human rights and dignity. It is time for a meaningful and honest dialogue on migration and our responsibilities, with most critical question: Will the deaths continue?

While these deaths and the policies that fuel them are unconscionable, we are deeply saddened to see the calluses that have grown on the hearts of those that continue to ignore such suffering. We must remember that we are all human beings, brothers and sisters who must share the earth, and the death and abuse of the least of us will eventually hurt us all.

The complete list of recovered remains is available on the Coalición de Derechos Humanos website: http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net

This information is available to anyone who requests it from us and is used by our organization to further raise awareness of the human rights crisis we are facing on our borders.

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Coalición de Derechos Humanos
P.O. Box 1286 Tucson, AZ 85702
Tel: (520) 770-1373
Fax: (520) 770-7455

http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net