20 September 2008

Ghosts at the Border

On September 15th of last year, the New York Times reported briefly on the death of Felicitas Martinaz Barradas, a woman who died trying to cross the border from Mexico to Arizona by way of the Sonoran Desert. This is a frequent route for those making their way into the United States and it is fraught with injury and death. Those traveling with her report that before she died, a smuggler gave her a carbonated drink and some caffeine pills in an effort to combat her increasing weakness. She died a little over 10 miles from the border.

The US Border Patrol has reported a drop in the number of illegal immigrants apprehended at the border, the result of additional agents and heavy National Guard presence. However, the numbers of those perishing in the deserts of regions that remain less patrolled are rising. In the first 8 months of 2007, a Pima County medical examiner's office handled nearly 180 border crossing deaths, compared with 139 in 2006. Pima County is one of the busiest areas for illegal crossings, and the death toll continues to rise.

Those numbers reflect increasing police activity in areas around California and Texas, previous hotbeds for border crossings. The goal was to divert traffic away from places like San Francisco, and to allow the desert to become a natural barrier to decrease the numbers of people trying to find a way into the country. But the desert hasn't stopped them.

Amnesty International has called for efforts to be made to control the flow of immigration through methods other than police activity and bigger fences. All life is to be respected regardless of citizenship. Ask that immigration remain at the forefront of our new candidates' platforms with the focus on humanitarian solutions to what has become a crisis not only for the United States, but for Mexico as well.

Find the original New York Times story here.

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