For Immediate Release
June 19, 2009
Contact: Kat Rodriguez: 520.770.1373
Arizona--The number of human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border since October 1, 2008 has exceeded 100 halfway through the month of June, reports the Coalición de Derechos Humanos. The compilation of data from medical examiner reports from Pima, Yuma, and Cochise counties is an attempt to reflect more accurately the human cost of irresponsible U.S. border and immigration policies. From the beginning of the fiscal year to the end of May, 95 human remains were recovered-this figure does not reflect any June numbers, which will include the recent rollover that resulted in the deaths of at least 8 individuals in Sonoita, and the body of a man recovered in Douglas earlier this month.
The count of 95 includes fifty-eight (58) males, eight (8) females, and a staggering twenty-nine (29) individuals of unknown gender (31% of the total). The numbers also reflect fifty-two (52) individuals of unknown identity, approximately 55% of the total remains recovered. The remains of 88 individuals had been recovered by the end of May at the same time last fiscal year.
"What is extremely disturbing is the alarming increase in the number of recovered remains of undetermined gender," says Kat Rodriguez of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos. "Last fiscal year, at the same time, there had been a total of five remains of undetermined gender recovered-nineteen the entire fiscal year; this year, there have been at least 29."
"Unknown gender" indicates that not enough of a body was recovered to determine gender, and without DNA, which is costly, it is impossible to know even this basic information about the individual, making identification and return to their families even more difficult.
The dramatic increase in unknown gender cases is a clear indicator of what happens as border enforcement strategies push migrants out into more and more isolated areas, making rescue and detection less likely and the likelihood of death more certain. This "Funnel Effect," which has been documented by the University of Arizona's Binational Migration Institute, has shown that the practice of sealing of traditional crossing points ultimately pushes migration into the deadliest areas. The real extent of this crisis is not known as the numbers of human remains recovered in neighboring states are not available.
"It is unconscionable that we continue policies we know are directly resulting in horrific deaths," continues Rodriguez. "We must demand an end to the killing fields that the Southwest border region has become. The current administration must show leadership in ending the costly militarization of the border and interior that has lined the pockets of the military-prison industry at the expense of real human security."
The complete list of recovered remains 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.
Coalición de Derechos Humanos
P.O. Box 1286 Tucson, AZ 85702