Derechos Humanos Press Release
August 28, 2009
183 Remains Recovered in Arizona
Five Weeks Left in the Fiscal Year, the Count Has Already Reached Last Year’s Total Arizona— The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2008 has reached 183 three weeks into the month of August.
With five weeks left in the fiscal year, the count has already reached the fiscal year total for 2007-08. From the beginning of the fiscal year to the end of July, 162 human remains were recovered—this figure does not reflect any of the 21 remains recovered through August 24th. The compilation of data from medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties is an attempt to reflect more accurately the human cost of irresponsible U.S. border and immigration policies.
The count of 183 includes 121 males, 27 females, and 34 individuals of unknown gender (19% of the total). The number includes 98 individuals of unknown identity, which is approximately 54% of the total recovered. The identification of at least 29 of the unknown individuals is hampered by the fact that only skeletal remains were recovered. The remains of 168 individuals had been recovered at the same time last fiscal year.
“While the media has hailed the efforts of the Border Patrol in rescuing migrants, nobody questions the policies that are pushing migrants further and further into the gauntlet of death” says Kat Rodriguez of Derechos Humanos. “How disingenuous is our government to applaud itself for taking measures to rescue people from the danger that it has placed them in? This is precisely why proposals to reform immigration must not agree to more militarization of our borders and communities. Our community security must come before any political gain sought or misinformed media hype.”
‘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. This fiscal year, the families of at least 34 individuals will suffer the continued agony of not knowing what has become of their loved one.
The dramatic increase in unknown gender cases is a clear indicator of what happens as border enforcement strategies push migrants out into more and more isolated areas, making rescue and detection less likely and the likelihood of death more certain. This ‘Funnel Effect,’ which has been documented by the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute, has shown that the practice of sealing of traditional crossing points ultimately pushes migration into the deadliest areas. The real extent of this crisis is not known as the numbers of human remains recovered in neighboring states are not available.
“In addition to the staggering number of recovered remains reported, Derechos Humanos has received a record number of reports of missing migrants.” continues Rodriguez.
“There are countless cases of individuals who have never been heard from again. The complete list of recovered remains is available on the Coalición de Derechos Humanos website 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.