view counter

Border-crossersThere is a crisis of death, disappearance at the U.S.-Mexico border: Critics

Published 9 December 2016

No More Deaths, an immigration advocacy group, says that there is a crisis of death and disappearance happening at the U.S.–Mexico border. On Tuesday, the Tucson, Arizona-based group released Part 1 of a three-part report series aiming to bring this crisis to light. “Mass death and disappearance are the inevitable outcomes of a border enforcement plan that uses the wilderness as a weapon,” the report says.

No More Deaths, a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, says that there is a crisis of death and disappearance happening at the U.S.–Mexico border. On Tuesday, the Tucson, Arizona-based group, along with and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos, released Part 1 of a three-part report series aiming to bring this crisis to light.

The series, Disappeared: How Border-Enforcement Agencies Are Fueling a Missing-Persons Crisis, focuses on three different Border Patrol practices that increase the likelihood of someone dying or disappearing while crossing the border. Part 1, Deadly Apprehension Methods, documents how Border Patrol agents chase groups and individuals causing them to scatter in remote terrain, where these border crossers are more likely to become lost, injured, or to disappear.

“Mass death and disappearance are the inevitable outcomes of a border enforcement plan that uses the wilderness as a weapon,” the report says.

“The known disappearance of thousands of people in the remote wilderness of the US–Mexico border zone marks one of the great historical crimes of our day,” the group said in the first part of the three-part report.

The report says that in addition to deadly apprehension methods, the Border Patrol, which deploys about 18,000 agents on the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, sabotages humanitarian aid efforts and discriminates against undocumented people in emergency responses.

Tens of thousands have gone missing since the 1990s, including 1,200 last year, the report said.

“If found, the disappeared turn up in detention centers, in morgues or skeletonized on the desert floor; many human remains are never identified. Thousands more are never located. With each passing day, another father, sister, aunt, brother, partner or child goes missing while attempting to cross the Southwest border.”

The two groups ask their supporters to take action now in order to address the problem of migrant death and disappearance.

The groups ask followers to call and fax three key congressional Democrats demanding that they use their power to do two things:

  • Commission a Government Accountability Office report on the cost of Trump’s wall, which would expose its extravagant cost, its ineffectiveness at halting migration, and how it would push more migrants towards death and disappearance
  • Be ready to filibuster when Trump’s wall is up for a vote

 “Our goal is to get 2,000 calls and faxes to each office!” the two groups say.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) defended its record.

CBP values human life, and we collaborate closely with foreign government officials, law enforcement partners, and community organizations to educate potential migrants about the true dangers of crossing the border illegally.”

The agency said that the Tucson sector Border Patrol deploys thirty-six rescue beacons and more than 230 agents trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), plus fifty-four Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) agents.

The agency said that smugglers were responsible for many of the problems migrants face. “Smugglers lie, telling their ‘customers’ their passage will be safe, but in reality, the terrain is treacherous and the conditions are extreme. Many are led to their deaths by smugglers more concerned about making money than they are about the lives of others.”

The Border Patrol estimates at least 6,000 have died since the 1990s, but other estimates are significantly higher. Since many of the bodies are never found, it is impossible to come up with accurate numbers.