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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

25

Cold Case Identification in Arizona

"There's often an interesting combination of objects. Mostly it is the normal stuff that anyone would take with them on a trip — toothpaste, socks, snacks, water. But then there are these very personal items — photographs of loved ones, handwritten notes from family members, kids' drawings."
—Anthropologist Robin Reineke helps identify and contact the families of people who died while trying to cross the US/Mexico border, and she describes what it's like for the BBC News Magazine. Photographer Jonathan Hollingsworth — whose book, 'Left Behind: Life and Death Along the US Border,' is out now — provides images. (And there's a movie tie-in, too.) It's a great, sad read.

[Thanks, Simone!]



25 Comments / Post A Comment

Ophelia

"And the photos have been touched and pulled out over and over again, then folded up and put back carefully." OOF. That just straight-up made me teary.

I wish we could run an ad campaign that re-writes immigrants' stories from the other side, and only at the end, once people have connected so strongly with these other humans going on a long, difficult journey away from family, tell them the protagonist came illegally across the desert. It's way easier to dismiss a demographic than a dad.

fondue with cheddar

@Ophelia That whole Elián González debacle should have shed some light on it, but once it was all over everybody went right back to thinking of people as demographics.

Ophelia

@fondue with cheddar Honestly, though, the fact that the Left cannot for the LIFE of them effectively do a PR campaign drives me nuts. (I suppose I'm included in the "them," but PR is not my job).

fondue with cheddar

@Ophelia Yeah, it should be easy considering who they're going up against.

angermonkey

@Ophelia A family acquaintance owns a ranch in Texas that shares a significant amount of border with Mexico. The stories of the people they find dead on their property would break your heart. The Coyotes take them (Mexicans, Hondurans, pretty much anybody from south of the border) to a point on the Mexican side and tell them to walk in a direction for so many days or follow this oil/gas pipeline and then they're off. They almost never have adequate supplies and they've often spent all their money for the Coyote's "help." The sand gets in their shoes, and they get blisters, and when they're unable to walk the group leaves them. A few days or a week after that is usually when the landowner or his ranch hands find them, if ever.

If Americans actually SAW what people do to get into this country and the risks they take, immigration reform would be a far, far different conversation.

Lily Rowan

Is it weird that I really like the Vonage phone service ads, because I think they are so pro-immigrant? From the opposite side from what you're talking about (the people in the ads seem rich), but still.

PistolPackinMama

@angermonkey Oh, god.

Yup. That's my limit.

mattewmc

Splended...Awesome...Cool@t

chevyvan

I took a Forensic Anthropology class in college many years ago where we did skeletal reconstructions using real skeletons. They were skeletons who had never been claimed or identified. Their boxes all contained any items that were found with the remains. Shoes. Sandwich wrappers. Combs. It was spooky and profound and heartbreaking.

Queen Elisatits

A good book on the subject is The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands (http://www.amazon.com/Death-Josseline-Immigration-Stories-Borderlands/dp/0807001309)
I read if for a class a few years ago and the author does a really good job of just telling the stories without much bias. She talks to immigrants, border patrol agents, morgue workers and ranchers, giving a pretty full picture of the situation in Arizona.

wee_ramekin

This article was heartbreaking.

whateverlolawants

Oh my god... reading this sounds even harder than it might have been before, since I have an immigrant boyfriend. He didn't cross the desert (or the Mexican border at all), but it's so easy and heartbreaking to imagine him being in their shoes. I wish everyone could see it like that.

sovereignann@twitter

I think my dad talked to this woman for her book. I'll have to ask but I know he did work with an anthropologist doing this sort of thing. My father works with the Samaritans outside of Tucson and organizes basuras in the desert to pick up the trash and leave water at drop spots. One time, they saved a girl who was dehydrated and bleeding and thought she could walk from Mexico to North Carolina where her family was. They do all kinds things and run into Minute Men (ugh) and Border Patrol (who can be good)and sometimes ranchers who will allow them on their land to leave water and remove trash. Anyway, here he is: http://www.gvsamaritans.org/Green_Valley-Sahuarita_Samaritans/volunteers/Entries/2012/11/20_Brian_Connolly%2C_basura.html My html mojo seems to be failing me, apologies. There was one particularly harrowing story but it is not mine to tell. I might ask him if I can talk about it.

whateverlolawants

@sovereignann@twitter
Wow, your dad is awesome, and I'm so glad that organization exists.

Abhiram

Left Behind: Life and Death Along the US Border' is a splendid work from Jonathan Hollingsworth. I recently bought the book from Amazon at a reduced rate of $32.26. I think the number of copies are limited. If you want one at this rate, then hurry!
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