Hot ticket: the high price of immigration to the USA

An interactive map of the 3600+ migrant deaths in the Arizona desert since 1981 can be found here:

“The U.S. Border Patrol [later] implemented a strategy called Prevention Through Deterrence. Since its inception, this approach has redirected migrant routes into the most inhospitable sections of the border, deploying the perilous desert as a tool to prevent entry into the United States.” (wikipedia)

The first time I drove through this area, my rear-view mirror fell off the windshield because of the heat, and my car didn’t have AC. After that trip, I realized AC was essential for driving in the southwest. Poor me..! Today it’s 105 in Phoenix, projected to lower to 86 by sunrise. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was 102 today. The last time I was there it was 112; I’d have to take breaks to go inside every 15 minutes.

Many of the bodies were unidentifiable, as they bloat and decay rapidly due to the heat. Vultures and wildlife pick them apart; they can be unidentifiable in a matter of days.

If you look through the map and index, you’ll see most die from hyperthermia, or advanced heat stroke. Some never even seem to have made it over the border, like 6 year old Gurupreet Kaur, who died of hyperthermia just north of Sonoyta. They suggest carrying two gallons of water per day, but I’d venture that’s a conservative estimate in that heat, and if you’ve ever done a 30+ mile hike carrying a few gallons of liquid, 8.34 lbs. each, you might have an idea how challenging that could be.

Luis Alberto Urrea describes a conversation with a young woman who’d come over the border. He thought perhaps her family was seeking better economic opportunities, but she responded that she’d been walking to school in (I believe) Sonoyta; gang members decapitated a man on the other side of the street ahead of her, and the blood splattered all over her school uniform. That’s when the family decided to leave.

For some people, the land of the free and the brave carries a high price tag.

Here’s a tour of the town Sonoyta, mentioned above. The driver heads down the street that the coyote lived on, who led the Yuma 14 to their deaths in the early 1980s.

Check out Urrea’s excellent book, “The Devil’s Highway,” which offers unparalleled insight into the border migration journey and the Border Patrol’s dual role trying to keep immigrants alive but out of our country.

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