Data about deaths along the US-Mexican border
A challenge proposed by Colibri Center for Human Rights
There haven’t always been hundreds of yearly deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border. This crisis came about in the mid- to late- 1990s, following U.S. border security measures that effectively pushed would-be migrants into remote desert geographies. As former Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner Doris Meissner told the Arizona Republic in 2000, “we did believe that geography would be an ally to us … It was our sense that the number of people crossing the border through Arizona would go down to a trickle, once people realized what it’s like.”
It is over a decade later, and people are still attempting dangerous crossings through remote areas of the borderlands. They are dying in the hundreds each year from exposure to the elements and there is no complete count of the number of bodies that have been found along the U.S. side of the border since the crisis began.
More importantly, increased border security is a common policy prescription but policy makers have very little information regarding the impact of this particular approach.
There are 23* counties along the border and each county** catalogues the remains and keeps records of this information:
(1) What are the most dangerous corridors for crossing the border and what are the most common places for crossing?
(2) How do increased deaths relate to increased border security?
Data is collected and managed inconsistently across the border, there is no standardized practice. Data is plentiful but can be hard to access. Is there a way to standardize the data collected about remains found on the border and make it easy accessible?
*There are 23 counties along the border but many counties near the border handle unidentified remains. Examples: Maricopa County, AZ and Brooks County, TX both handle large numbers of remains.
** In some counties data collection is managed by the medical examiner, justice of the peace, sheriff's department, or coroner.
Data source for AZ: