Released recently from los compañeros de la Coalición de Derechos Hermanos: In the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2005 and ended on September 30, 2006, two hundred five migrant deaths were documented in Arizona. Numbers from the Pima, Yuma, and Cochise County 152 males, 48 females, and 5 individuals whose gender is still unknown. This also includes the documented deaths of 8 children, whose number make up approximately 4% of the total number of migrant deaths this past fiscal year.
Most tragic is the alarming number of unidentified migrants who die on the Arizona-Sonora border. This fiscal year’s count included 93 migrants whose identities are as of yet unknown, 45% of the total number of migrant casualties. Since 1995, more than 1/3 of all border deaths remain unidentified.
“In addition to the pain caused by the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of men, women and children in our communities every year, is the agony that comes with not knowing the identity of so many,” says Anna Ochoa O’Leary of Derechos Humanos. “Hundreds and hundreds of families must endure the torture of not knowing what has become of their loved ones.”
As the immigration “debate” continues to provide fuel for political positioning as the elections near, the human rights crisis continues to be ignored, or worse, in some instances used as justification for calls for more militarization of our border. Xenophobic and racist rhetoric is routinely given free range, while demands from border communities for meaningful dialogue on these issues have received no attention.
As a small, non-profit human rights organization that seeks to bring change and justice to the border, Coalición de Derechos Humanos began in 2003 to systematically document the deaths along the Arizona/Sonora. For twelve years our bloated federal agencies have refused to provide true accounting for the deaths, as corroborated by the GAO in its latest study, Border-Crossing Deaths Have Doubled Since 1995; Border Patrol’s Efforts to Prevent Deaths Have Not Been Fully Evaluated.
“We call upon our communities to come together in our demand that our leaders put an end to border deaths by implementing immigration and economic policy reform that address the issue of migration, and by immediately demilitarizing our borders. As we have witnessed for more than a decade, and as the increasing loss of human life serves to attest, our current border agencies are rich in resources, and extremely poor in human decency, failing in their obligations to humanity,” stated O’Leary.
The list of migrant deaths is available on the Derechos Humanos website: http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net/deaths.php. 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.