Final Count for Recovered Bodies on the Arizona-Sonora Border 183, the Majority of Them Unidentified
Arizona- The final number of bodies recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border for the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2007 and ended September 30, 2008 is 183, reports Coalición de Derechos Humanos. The data, which are compiled from medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties, are an attempt to give a more accurate reflection of the human cost of failed U.S. border and immigration policies. The final count includes 119 males, 45 females, and approximately 108, or 59% of unknown identity. Countries represented in the final count include México, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Peru.
While this figure is lower than last year's total of 237, factors do not clearly indicate that this is a total decline in the overall deaths on the border, particularly as the numbers of bodies recovered in neighboring states are not available. There is information to suggest that the migration flow patterns are shifting due to the Funnel Effect, which has been documented by the Binational Migration Institute. The high number of skeletal remains recovered this year, 31 (17%) support this likely shift in migration flow, and it is possible that the long periods of time before being recovered indicates that people are crossing in more isolated and desolate areas, with less chance of rescue or discovery. It is unknown how many remains are currently near the border but have not yet been discovered.
"What is especially disturbing about this year's data is the high number of remains that have an unknown gender, which went from 5 last year to 19 this year, approximately 10% of the total bodies recovered" says Kat Rodriguez, Coordinator of Derechos Humanos. "This means that not enough of the body was recovered to determine the gender, and without DNA, it is impossible to know even this basic information about the individual, making identification and return to their families even more difficult."
Proportionally, the gender makeup appears to be consistent with what has been seen in the past few years, with women making up approximately 25% of recovered bodies; however, without knowing the gender of these 19 individuals, it is unclear if this still holds true. The dramatic increase in these unknown gender cases are a troubling indicator or what might be to come, as people are pushed out into more and more isolated areas, making rescue and detection less likely, and the likelihood of death more certain.
"What we are seeing with these tragic annual figures are the direct effects of border militarization and immigration policies. As more and more of these men, women and children are out there for a long periods of time before being found, their families must continue to suffer the pain of not knowing what has become of their loved one" continued Rodriguez.
"It is incomprehensible that these deadly policies are continued, and with the current additions to the wall being constructed, we continue to see more of the same, at the cost of human life and dignity."
The complete list of recovered bodies 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.