Everyone talks about immigration, but no one talks about the deaths. In the last six years, the number of immigrant deaths has tripled. Why have they tripled? Who is responsible for these deaths? The deaths have tripled due to increased militarization of the Border States by creating larger fences and adding more border patrol agents. Before Operation Gate Keeper in 1998, our border was not as militarized as it is today. Immigrants used to make it safely into the United States.
Many immigrants that cross the border between Arizona and Mexico do not make it into the United States safely anymore. The desert near the Arizona-Mexico border has caused many immigrants to die due to the lack of water and exhaustion. In other cases, many have died due to Border Patrol brutality.
For the immigrant, it no longer takes one day to walk through the desert, but four to reach the nearest town for food and water. The government has guarded well the dividers in highly populated cities like the San Diego-Tijuana Border or the Juarez-El Paso border in Texas. According to Kat Rodriquez, Intake Specialist with the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, the government believed that by militarizing the highly populated cities they could narrow the traffic of migrants into the desert by doing three things: gather migrants, reduce the flow of migrant traffic, and lastly the news of migrant deaths would prevent other migrants from crossing over.
These migrants in search of the “American Dream” cross through the desert of Arizona with the hot sun on their backs and with only two gallons of water in their backpack, which is not enough for a four-day trip. Many who cross do not make it through. The question is should the deaths of these migrants be enough to show this nation that we are in need of a solution for our immigration issue?
There was a story in a documentary named Undocumented by Marco Williams of a 15-year old girl who died trying to cross the border with her younger brother. Why does a 15-year old have to cross the desert along with her younger brother? This girl took care of her brother till the end and their dreams of a better life were lost in the decomposition of their bones.
The structures implemented by both the Mexican and United States government have led many to die in the desert. The Mexican government can no longer offer jobs to the poor nor can it provide the services needed in order for the poor to live an “okay” life. The implementation of the structures of NAFTA created an economic drought for many Mexicans who depended on their farming wages, which provided for their family. With the lack of money and finances, migrants decide to move to the United States to work and send money back to their families.
Adrian Calderon is a senior theology/philosophy and biblical studies double major. He is passionate about human rights.