Thursday, May 23, 2013

May our brothers & sisters RIP; may we do everything in our power for immigration rights!

Millions of undocumented immigrants endure the most outrageous humiliations, criminality, danger, & violations of human rights in order to find work & support their loved ones usually left behind. Hundreds of them die gruesomely & violently along the way. The US-Mexico border is scattered with their remains & makeshift graveyards are set up with unmarked graves. One medical examiner in Laredo, TX, on her own initiative does DNA testing & makes attempts to identify those who died in order to notify & return them to their families for burial.

Getting across the border, which entails fording, swimming, or boating the Rio Grande or scaling the monstrous barrier wall is only the first stage of this horrific odyssey. Once across, they have to hide out in stifling heat in sugar cane fields & dense foliage while trying to elude border patrol agents.

Mind you, all sorts of people are crossing: older displaced workers & young men, unaccompanied old & young women, & an estimated 25,000 unaccompanied minors in 2012. They come from Mexico, from Central America, & the US-Texas border has the highest rate of those termed “OTM” (Other Than Mexican) by the border patrol--which means immigrants from India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Africa, & elsewhere.

If they successfully, with or without the help of a “coyote” (human smuggler), get past this obstacle, they still must travel north. About 85 miles from the border at Falfurrias, Texas (& in other locations on north-bound roads), there is a border patrol checkpoint. You know you’re approaching it when you start to see dozens of border patrol vehicles & many cars pulled over for inspection.

The checkpoint at Falfurrias operates year-round 24 hours a day, is equipped with K-9 units, x-ray scanners & highly trained (if not also nasty-assed) border patrol agents. The land around the checkpoint, mostly ranch land, is heavily patrolled by agents in trucks, on ATVs & on horseback & armed vigilante ranchers. To get around the checkpoint coyotes accompany immigrants through the area or hire others to do so & arrange to pick them up at a safe location farther north. Many immigrants can’t afford a coyote & make this treacherous passage on their own. They often don’t make it due to scorching heat & the aggressive ranchers. Most die from heat exhaustion & dehydration.

This is a photo of unidentified immigrants among 50 whose bodies were exhumed in Falfurrias so teams from Baylor University & the University of Indianapolis can examine & cross check DNA sent from Mexico & Central American countries with the hope of returning their remains to families for burial. These deaths are an unspeakable crime & an abomination that must be opposed & ended!

Immigration is a human right! No human being is illegal! Open the damn borders!

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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