Immigration Reform 2013: Hundreds Of Men, Women, and Children Die Trying to Immigrate Each Year


People are, quite literally, dying to be American. 

Hundreds are dying. The bodies are "stored in musty body bags coated in dust," according to the New York Times, mostly unknown victims of increasingly perilous treks across the southern border, waiting to be identified by loved ones who come in search of them. There were 774 in mid-May. Solutions need to be found.

HuffPo points out that, "Since 2001 about 2,100 migrants have died while crossing the Arizona border." Many died "within the borders of theTohono O’odham Nation Indian Reservation, a wedge of desert the size of Connecticut." That's a tiny area for so many people to be found dead. Unfortunately, the tribe does not allow the placement of water stations on tribal land, though their history in the region is complicated.

Dying for want of work, for want of the American dream, and for want of water as they are forced to cross further from roads and safe passages. The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office and Humane Borders, a nonprofit group that maintains a network of water stations for migrants, have released a database pinpointing where remains have been found.

Source: NYT Online, Infographic

Increased border enforcement, especially in the xenophobic wasteland that constitutes Arizona, has made for riskier border crossings in remote and perilous desert and mountain stretches. The NYT reports, "the largest number of the deaths last year occurred along the punishing stretch of desert that spans the southernmost tip of the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, the busiest along the border."

And they're dying from a myriad of issues, exposure being the most prolific. The surprising number of blunt force injuries, gunshot wounds, and homicides may point to a slew of unsolved murders of migrants happening in our Southwest deserts as well. If this is the case, who's doing the murdering? Outlaw gangs roaming the deserts? Cartels? American border vigilantes?

Source: NYT Online, Infographic

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) pointed out the Border Patrol's quiet posting of the official stats to its website recently, statistics it claims "depict a developing humanitarian emergency on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border." Notably, "Of the 15 years of data given, 2012 saw the second-highest number of migrant remains found in U.S. territory. There were 463, which is equivalent to five migrants dying every four days."


Something needs to be done. WOLA is offering solutions: "migrants’ lives could be saved with a few inexpensive adjustments in water availability, rescue beacons, and search-and-rescue capability." Water drums stationed alongside rescue beacons and increased funding to expand BORSTAR (the Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue Unit teams) could also be effective ways to reduce and eliminate unnecessary deaths on U.S. soil.

The migrants that come to America to make our country better deserve better. Let's give it to them/

Wanna know more about immigration issues? Follow me on Twitter: @JohnathenDD