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A fence runs along the US-Mexico border between the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro ports of entry in and near San Diego, California, across from Tijuana, Mexico (L). The barrier seperating the two countries known to many as the 'border fence' or the 'border wall' is in reality several barriers, designed to prevent illegal movement across the border, backed by supporters and criticized by opponents.
Hundreds of migrants die every year trying to cross into the U.S., many of which are never identified. A recent article in the American Prospect explores the region where the grim realities are a way of life.
Journalist Brendan Borrell wrote article "Ghosts of the Rio Grande,” which explores why so many bodies along the US/Mexican border are never identified.
So what are the best estimates of the number of people who go missing along the border?
"Well, that is a tough one. I mean, the border control reports numbers every year of the bodies that they find. But, a lot of these numbers are scattered about in county records because there is no national law that requires this stuff to be reported. As far as I could tell, the ACLU has a report that suggests that about 300 to 400 are dying each year on the US side of the border."
There’s a (region from Houston to San Antonio and south to McAllen) people call the “Bermuda Triangle” for bodies. Why is this Texas region hit so hard?
"The number of people dying in Texas has been at about the same level as Arizona. But, where Arizona has only four border counties, and California only two, Texas has about 20 to 25. The way that the system is fractured down there, you have one county doing one thing, another county doing another thing, and there’s not any uniform process by which they’re taking DNA sample or contacting the consulate and so forth. It’s a bit of a mess down there, and that’s why so many people are going unidentified."
What did you learn about the people willing to make this journey?
"It’s dangerous. Their family might not ever see them again, and that’s something they’re going to have to accept when they leave. Those are the hardest stories to hear because they’re stories without an ending. … Even when you have a happy ending in this situation, it’s not a happy ending. You’re finding out: My son or daughter is dead."