Introduction to Border Militarization

Photo by Raquel Mogollon

Preface

With this section we will touch on the major points to be covered in the Border Militarization Resource Guide. Isabel Garcia, co-founder of the Tucson-based Derechos Humanos Coalition provides an essential background in the history of free trade and militarization and their impacts on the US/Mexico border. Will Wickham does an excellent job presenting an overview of the subjects covered in this guide. Leilani Clark is a young  poet and activist whose poem, To Honor Lives Stolen, provides a poignant introduction to the tragic list that follows: a listing of the undocumented persons whose remains were found last year on the Arizona side of the Sonoran Desert.

We also want to call attention to the photographs not only for this lesson, but throughout the Study Guide.  We are thankful to be working with some of the best photojournalists-both professional and amateur-who are chronicling the struggles of the undocumented. It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. But maybe it is best not to compare the value of these photographs to words at all.

In this chapter, you will find:
Isabel Garcia on the History and Impact of Free Trade and Militarization on the Border (video)
The Question of Border Militarization, by Will Wickham
To Honor Lives Stolen, by Leilani Clark
The Human Cost of Militarization
The War in Arizona, by James Jordan
Links and Resources

Return to the Border Militarization Resource Guide main page.


Isabel Garcia
A History of Free Trade and Border Militarization

Interview and video by Chelli Stanley and Will Wickham for AfGJ.


Will Wickham
The Question of Border Militarization

The line separating the two nations of México and the United States runs nearly two thousand miles. In its most contemporary incarnation, it spans four US states, six Mexican States, and divides several Indian reservations and metropolitan areas. But it is only a line; its single dimension can have no place other than the strictly conceptual in a three dimensional world. The true border is what humans create upon the concept; it is the fence, the policies, the restriction of movements of goods and people. And so, the “border” becomes expansive: it is an entire region in both Mexico and the United States, it is the cities, towns and countryside. The presence of the border is felt wherever border policies and legislation structure our lives.

The borderlands, like most of this continent, is primarily a site of displacement and genocide of indigenous people—a process that continues today. It is also the product of the US nation state taking half of México’s land by military force between 1845 and 1848. It is a site of violence, imperialism and at times, of beautiful cultural exchange. More recently it has become a site of militarization, a practice which is spreading throughout the US, México, to Central and South America and beyond. Militarization is the organization or aggregation of military force in a territory. It is a term which encompasses, but is much broader than, a concentration of guns and army personnel on the land. It changes the visual landscape, the language and social norms, and the local and global economy. The physical territory covered in weaponry is inextricable from our individual and collective planes of consciousness. When our land is militarized, our minds as well are subjugated to military order, of checkpoints, policing, prisons and forced displacement.

The immediately visible militarization of the border is the expansion of the border wall, the concentration of armed officers patrolling the desert, and the implementation of drones and surveillance technology. Around the time when the North American Free Trade agreement was going into effect (1994), the first walls were built in Tijuana/San Diego and Ciudad Juarez/El Paso. In sealing these primary points of entry to the US the main routes of migration were forced into the harsh and remote Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, where migrants walk for days in extreme temperatures. In 1994 there were 14 deaths on the border. In 2010 there were 253 human remains found in Arizona alone. Since 1994 there have been over 6,000 remains found in the desert, and many more will never be found. Policy makers claimed the desert would act as a deterrent to immigration, but it has not. They fundamentally failed to understand why people are being forced north.

“Who is it hurting? Who stands to benefit?”

Every one of the thousands of people who will cross the border northwards today has their own reasons for crossing. Many of them have lived many years in the US and are trying to get back to their children and spouses. Others might be escaping from violence in their home countries. Many are crossing to look for work in order to help their family escape the violence of poverty. Such poverty is a direct result of policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement, which displaced millions of poor Mexicans from their land. It is a result of US military intervention that sponsored regimes of terror and genocide in Central America in order to protect the interests of trade and capitalism. Any one of us would migrate under these circumstances.

Many people imagine the US as a beacon of liberty, justice, and democracy, protecting freedom and rights around the world. How then, does such a nation treat its immigrants? Currently, the US is trying to arrest, detain and deport as many as possible. Obama’s administration deported more people than any other administration. This project of deportation relies on the creation of a public perception that immigrants are freeloaders benefiting from welfare or that they are violent criminals involved in drug trade and gang activity, all of which is mixed up with the specter of terrorism. This production of fear and hate makes it possible to police, incarcerate and deport the people who are otherwise family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, on an unprecedented scale. This activity is sometimes most visible on the border, but in reality, it is playing out across the country, in every city and town were immigrants are living and working. The question is, why are US citizens fearful and hateful of immigrants? Who is actually benefiting from this complex of surveillance, incarceration and deportation?

The concern over international terrorism has also been used to export this new style of border enforcement, incarceration and surveillance around the world. From the Dominican Republic’s border with Haiti to the apartheid wall in Israel/Palestine, the US has played a role in supporting and creating militarized borders. The US, and US-based companies are also involved in projects throughout the Americas and the world that spread both neoliberal economic policies and build prisons and create militarized zones. Although each country may have different reasons for these projects, we must look for the connections between them and ask, who is this protecting? Who is it hurting? Who stands to benefit?

The US has overwhelmingly benefited from immigrant labor over the past 150 years. The border has been a useful tool for exploiting labor in various ways. US businesses, especially in agriculture, have a long history of recruiting undocumented laborers from Mexico to work for illegally low wages. The threat of deportation continues to be used to prevent organizing and keep wages illegally low, sometimes to deny wages altogether, as was notoriously the case during the Bracero program, a guest worker program from 1942 to 1964. Today’s immigrants are subject to similar exploitation and at times, enslavement. NAFTA, while displacing so many people from Mexico, also allowed many factories to move just across the border, creating a complex of brutal exploitation in Mexico and leaving many unemployed in the US. When we hear people saying that immigrants are coming to “steal our jobs,” we must ask who is really responsible for unemployment and identify the ways in which immigrant workers and unemployed US citizens are both suffering from the same economic system.

Border militarization has affected communities and families from Honduras to Maine, and has ties to global economics, but has also fundamentally transformed the borderlands. Arizona has been a laboratory for the rest of the country, the testing ground for state legislation like S.B. 1070 which legalized racial profiling and has since been implemented in several other states. If we wish to understand the nature of the US nation-state, we should start by looking at the Tohono O’odham, an indigenous nation bisected by the México/US border. The militarized border is just the most recent violation of their sovereignty, in process that began 500 years ago.

The border has become a war zone in many new ways, even though it always has been in other ways. With the Border Militarization Resource Guide we hope to put the border on your map, to cultivate a consciousness and understanding of migration, labor, racism and militarization. Historically immigration reform, while allowing many people to naturalize, has been a Trojan horse for dramatic increases in enforcement. With another round of immigration reform on the horizon it is critical that we stand together and refuse to compromise. We hope these resources will inspire and assist your community’s resistance to the policies and practices that are currently tearing so many lives, and the earth itself, apart.


Leilani Clark
To Honor Lives Stolen

To do the work we do is to honor those lives.
To educate and inform,
to articulate and paint a picture for you
All that goes on in this state,
In these deserts.
To do the work we do is to honor those lives lost in them.
Josseline Janiletha Hernandez Quintero
Milka Lopez-Herrera

Lourdes Cruz Morales
Desconocido
Desconocida- Unknown name, unknown age
-this woman.
Maybe she, a young twenty-two year old, went through what I am living through

and she came up north to run away and start all over again.
To break free from the bounds suffocating her body brought by sexual violence.
But now there she lies.

Her once laughing body
now so cold.
Placed inside a cold metal freezer of the same consistency

of the cold metal barrier you need around your heart to work at the Pima Medical Examiner’s Office.
There she lies,

pieces of her beautiful body providing the vivid sensory of smell to visitors coming from all over the country to get a firsthand glimpse of what goes on in Arizona.
The one state where to learn the scent of a sun-dried corpse is to learn the reality of failed border policies.
This all dawns on me while I write this, dressed in black- about to go to my auntie’s funeral.

All the weight of the world in the very fact a funeral is a golden privilege.

Funeral for a migrant mother (Tucson, 2005)


The Human Cost
of Border Militarization

The following list is taken from the Arizona OpenGIS Initiative for Deceased Migrants, a partnership between the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office and Humane Borders, Inc. It lists the individual border crossers whose remains were recovered from the Arizona borderlands in 2016. We encourage readers not to rush through these individuals, but consider each one and the conditions under which they died. To see this list and to view a map of migrant deaths, please visit (www.humaneborders.info).

  1. Jan 5 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  2. Jan 5 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cowlick, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  3. Jan 9 2016, SALES LUIS, EDUARDO, male, age 31, Sasabe, HYPOTHERMIA
  4. Jan 25 2016, ROMERO HERNANDEZ, IGNACIO, male, age 32, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  5. Jan 26 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  6. Jan 26 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  7. Jan 31 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  8. Feb 23 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cowlick, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  9. Mar 1 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  10. Mar 3 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  11. Mar 3 2016, Perez Soto, Serafin, male, age 30, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  12. Mar 6 2016, ORTEGA QUINTERO, MARTIN ENRIQUE, male, age 23, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED AND SKELETAL REMAINS
  13. Mar 7 2016, FUENTES RODRIGUEZ, IVAN GAEL, male, age 22, Cabeza Prieta, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  14. Mar 7 2016, PADILLA CASTRO, JORGE ENRIQUE, male, age 32, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED
  15. Mar 20 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  16. Mar 18 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Ajo, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  17. Apr 1 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  18. Apr 1 2016, Luis Velasco, Fidel, male, age 32, Cowlick, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  19. Apr 7 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED –SKELETAL REMAINS
  20. Apr 7 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  21. Apr 7 2016, (Unidentified), female, age unknown, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  22. Apr 8 2016, (Unidentified), male, age 45, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  23. May 6 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  24. May 15 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cowlick, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  25. May 15 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  26. May 18 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  27. May 23 2016, (Unidentified), undetermined, age unknown, Ajo, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  28. May 26 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sierra Vista, UNDETERMINED-SKELETAL REMAINS
  29. May 31 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cowlick, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  30. May 31 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  31. May 31 2016, (Unidentified), undetermined, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  32. Jun 1 2016, JIMENEZ GUZMAN, MARTIN, male, age 30, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  33. Jun 2 2016, QUIROZ MELCHOR, FERNANDO JOSUE, male, age 20, Goldwater, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  34. Jun 4 2016, SANTOS MENDOZA, ELEUTERIA, female, age 30, Yuma, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  35. Jun 6 2016, LUQUE GASTELUM, CHRISTIAN JESUS, male, age 33, San Miguel, HYPERTHERMIA
  36. Jun 7 2016, GONZALEZ SANCHEZ, ABDEL SAMUEL, male, age 21, Sasabe, HYPERTHERMIA
  37. Jun 7 2016, ROMERO BADILLA, JESUS EDUARDO, male, age 26, San Miguel, HYPERTHERMIA
  38. Jun 7 2016, (Unidentified), undetermined, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  39. Jun 9 2016, PEREZ GOMEZ, IGNACIO, male, age 19, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  40. Jun 9 2016, SANCHEZ-SANCHEZ, CRISTOBAL ELIAS, male, age 27, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED REMAINS
  41. Jun 9 2016, HERNANDEZ, JUAN C, male, age 33, Yuma, MULTIPLE GUNSHOT WOUNDS
  42. Jun 10 2016, RODRIGUEZ MARTINEZ, SERGIO, male, age 23, Goldwater, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  43. Jun 10 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Goldwater, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  44. Jun 10 2016, BARAJAS-LUA, MIGUEL ANGEL, male, age 36, Goldwater, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  45. Jun 10 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Goldwater, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  46. Jun 13 2016, ZAMORA MORENO, MARTIN YOVANI, male, age 34, Ajo, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  47. Jun 16 2016, PEREZ VALENZUELA, ANGEL ANTONIO, male, age 22, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  48. Jun 16 2016, GARCIA QUIROZ, YULIANA, female, age 32, Nogales, BLUNT FORCE HEAD TRAUMA
  49. Jan 11 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED REMAINS
  50. Jun 20 2016, (Unidentified), male, age 45, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED DUE TO MUMMIFIED REMAINS
  51. Jun 23 2016, VASQUEZ TOMAS, ELMA, female, age 19, San Miguel, HYPERTHERMIA
  52. Jun 23 2016, HERNANDEZ RUIZ, NESTOR, male, age 25, Patagonia, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  53. Jun 24 2016, PEREZ ZUNUN, NORMA ISABEL, female, age 31, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED AND SKELETAL REMAINS
  54. Jun 27 2016, GUTIERREZ LEAL, JAVIER, male, age 22, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  55. Jun 28 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  56. Jun 29 2016, SANCHEZ GARCIA, WALTER ANTONIO, male, age 43, Ajo, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  57. Jul 2 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  58. Jul 4 2016, CRUZ VAZQUEZ, ISRAEL, male, age 22, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL AND MUMMIFIED REMAINS
  59. Jul 4 2016, GONZALEZ HERNANDEZ, ABRAHAM, male, age 24, Cabeza Prieta, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  60. Jul 5 2016, Lopez Martinez, Jose A., male, age 25, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  61. Jul 6 2016, Vazquez Cruz, Zacarias, male, age 23, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED AND SKELETAL REMAINS
  62. Jul 9 2016, (Unidentified), male, age 35, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – POSTMORTEM DECOMPOSITION
  63. Jul 9 2016, MATIAS SALES, CARLOS MARROQUIN, male, age 20, Sasabe, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  64. Jul 10 2016, VASQUEZ-MATUS, DELFINO, male, age 42, Patagonia, DEHYDRATION / PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  65. Jul 11 2016, Perez Perez, Jose M., male, age 34, Sasabe, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  66. Jul 12 2016, Estrada Banegas, Josue Misael, male, age 26, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  67. Jul 13 2016, AQUINO BARRIENTOS, SERGIO ALEXANDER, male, age 30, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  68. Jul 15 2016, NORIZ MEZA, SERGIO, male, age 36, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  69. Jul 16 2016, CONTRERAS RAMOS, RAMON, male, age 36, Undetermined, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA DUE TO EXPOSURE TO THE ELEMENTS
  70. Jul 19 2016, ZUNIGA ELVIR, MANUEL ENRIQUE, male, age 40, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  71. Jul 19 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Patagonia, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED REMAINS
  72. Jul 20 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cowlick, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  73. Jul 21 2016, BARRIENTOS ARCHAGA, KELVIN OMAR, male, age 29, Cabeza Prieta, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  74. Jul 21 2016, ERRAEZ MALLAGUARI, BLANCA IRLANDA, female, age 36, San Miguel, HYPERTHERMIA
  75. Jul 23 2016, MAZARIEGOS BRAVO, ELIAS ROLANDO, male, age 39, San Miguel, HYPERTHERMIA
  76. Jul 25 2016, ITZEP IXCOY, SANTOS JUBENILO, male, age 39, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  77. Jul 26 2016, OLIVER DURAN, RUFINO, male, age 25, Douglas, MULTIPLE BLUNT FORCE INJURIES
  78. Jul 26 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  79. Jul 31 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cowlick, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  80. Jul 31 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Ajo, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  81. Aug 1 2016, BAXCAJAY-FLORES, IRENE, female, age 34, Cowlick, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  82. Aug 1 2016, Lopez Medina, Fausto, male, age 25, Cabeza Prieta, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  83. Aug 4 2016, (Unidentified), male, age 37, Nogales, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  84. Aug 6 2016, PETRIZ CRUZ, ANTONIO, male, age 26, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  85. Aug 6 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Nogales, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  86. Aug 6 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  87. Aug 7 2016, MATEO, AGUSTIN AGUILAR, male, age 35, San Miguel, HYPERTHERMIA
  88. Aug 8 2016, NUCAMENDI FARRERA, ROGER, male, age 35, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED DUE TO SKELETAL REMAINS
  89. Aug 8 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED DUE TO SKELETAL REMAINS
  90. Aug 9 2016, SANCHEZ OTZOY, FRANCISCO, male, age 55, San Miguel, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  91. Aug 21 2016, Herrera Lopez, Rudy A., male, age 24, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED AND SKELETAL REMAINS
  92. Aug 23 2016, (Unidentified), male, age 23, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  93. Aug 24 2016, (Unidentified), male, age 55, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED DUE TO SKELETAL REMAINS
  94. Aug 26 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  95. Aug 27 2016, SURIANO CRISANTO, EMILIANO, male, age 37, Nogales, HYPERTHERMIA
  96. Aug 30 2016, LOPEZ GARCIA, MAYNOR, male, age 24, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  97. Sep 2 2016, AYALA AGUIRRE, LUIS GABRIEL, male, age 38, Ajo, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED AND SKELETAL REMAINS
  98. Sep 2 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  99. Sep 7 2016, (Unidentified), male, age 99, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  100. Sep 7 2016, (Unidentified), male, age 40, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  101. Sep 6 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  102. Sep 11 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  103. Sep 12 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  104. Sep 12 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  105. Sep 13 2016, Monroy Aguilar, Vicente, male, age 48, Nogales, PROBABLE HYPERTHERMIA
  106. Sep 13 2016, De La Cruz Hernandez, Antonio, male, age 48, Ajo, UNDETERMINED (MUMMIFIED AND SKELETAL REMAINS)
  107. Sep 14 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  108. Sep 17 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Bernadino, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED AND SKELETAL REMAINS
  109. Sep 19 2016, (Unidentified), male, age 45, Ajo, UNDETERMINED (MUMMIFIED, SKELETONIZED REMAINS)
  110. Sep 20 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  111. Sep 20 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  112. Sep 20 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  113. Sep 22 2016, Gomez Hernandez, Alfonso, male, age 22, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED DUE TO POSTMORTEM DECOMPOSITION
  114. Sep 21 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  115. Sep 23 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  116. Sep 27 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  117. Sep 30 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  118. Oct 6 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  119. Oct 12 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  120. Oct 14 2016, (Unidentified), female, age 55, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  121. Oct 14 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  122. Oct 14 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  123. Oct 14 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  124. Oct 10 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Goldwater, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  125. Oct 10 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Goldwater, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  126. Oct 19 2016, Herrera Renoj, Maria, female, age 23, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  127. Oct 24 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  128. Oct 25 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  129. Oct 22 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED — SKELETAL REMAINS
  130. Oct 27 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sierra Vista, UNDETERMINED – MUMMIFIED REMAINS
  131. Nov 4 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  132. Nov 9 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  133. Nov 16 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  134. Nov 16 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  135. Nov 17 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Ajo, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  136. Nov 23 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  137. Nov 23 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  138. Nov 27 2016, Rodriguez Cimarron, Rafael, male, age 49, San Miguel, HYPOTHERMIA
  139. Nov 29 2016, (Unidentified), female, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  140. Dec 7 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  141. Dec 8 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  142. Dec 14 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  143. Dec 14 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  144. Dec 16 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Ajo, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  145. Dec 16 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, San Miguel, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  146. Dec 19 2016, Cifuentes Diaz, Eleazar S., male, age 40, Patagonia, UNDETERMINED – DECOMPOSED REMAINS
  147. Dec 19 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  148. Dec 20 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Yuma, UNDETERMINED (SKELETAL REMAINS)
  149. Dec 20 2016, (Unidentified), female, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  150. Dec 20 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Ajo, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  151. Dec 21 2016, (Unidentified), undetermined, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL REMAINS
  152. Dec 22 2016, (Unidentified), male, age unknown, Sasabe, UNDETERMINED – SKELETAL AND MUMMIFIED REMAINS
  153. Dec 25 2016, Chavez Agueda, Osman, male, age 26, Patagonia, HYPOTHERMIA
  154. Jan 17 2016, Unidentified Remains, undetermined, age unknown, Ajo, Undetermined
  155. Apr 18 2016, Unidentified Remains, male, age unknown, Ajo, Undetermined
  156. Apr 23 2016, Unidentified Remains, male, age unknown, Ajo, Undetermined
  157. Jun 16 2016, Unidentified Remains, male, age unknown, Ajo, Undetermined
  158. Jun 20 2016, Javier Hernandez Estrada, male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, Pending
  159. Jun 25 2016, Santos Alonso Esquivel, male, age unknown, Undetermined, Homicide
  160. Jun 27 2016, Juan Gomez Garcia, male, age unknown, Cowlick, Accident, Complications of Environmental Heat Exposure
  161. Jul 21 2016, Unidentified Remains, male, age unknown, Cabeza Prieta, Pending
  162. Jul 30 2016, Unidentified Remains, male, age unknown, Ajo, Undetermined
  163. Jul 30 2016, Unidentified Remains, undetermined, age unknown, Ajo, Undetermined
  164. Aug 9 2016, Saul Rodriquez, male, age unknown, Undetermined, Accident, Complications of Environmental Heat Exposure
  165. Sep 16 2016, Armando Gaxiola Garcia, male, age unknown, Ajo, Pending
  166. Sep 30 2016, Unidentified Remains, female, age unknown, Undetermined, Undetermined
  167. Oct 17 2016, Unidentified Remains, male, age unknown, Cowlick, Pending
  168. Nov 8 2016, Unidentified Remains, male, age unknown, Undetermined, Pending
  169. Nov 8 2016, Unidentified Remains, male, age unknown, Cowlick, Pending

Photo by David Bacon


James Jordan
The War in Arizona

Originally published in ZCommunications magazine
March 2, 2011

Southern Arizona has become a war zone. The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others at a Tucson shopping center in January spotlighted this to the nation. Sad to say, for those of us living in Tucson, it was a shock, but not unexpected. My friend Al Perry, a long-time Tucson musician, summed up what many of us are feeling: “I am so terrified and disgusted right now. First the initial tragedy. Then it’s knowing her personally, like almost everyone in this town. And now it’s the hate talk that hasn’t abated, but been ratcheted up a few notches. All this talk about ‘free speech’ and the ‘Second Amendment’ from those who understand neither. I am sickened by what’s going on.”

The massacre that killed six persons, including a nine-year-old girl, did not take place in a vacuum, but rather within a context of political polarization and violence fueled by vitriolic rhetoric centered around, but not limited to, invectives against undocumented workers.

A “security state” mentality has led state government to prioritize the struggle against alleged threats from the undocumented over funding for basic social services and programs designed to meet human needs. Laws such as SB1070 criminalized undocumented workers, resulting in huge caseloads in courts and jail time for a new and growing population of immigrant prisoners. This, in turn, means handsome returns for private for-profit prisons. No wonder SB1070 was authored by persons closely connected to Arizona’s private prison complex and that public health services, which could have diverted Loughner from his destructive path, were not available.

Giffords is not a left-leaning Democrat. She voted for Iraq war funding, opposed an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, and called for more border militarization. However, she opposed Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB1070, supported immigration and health-care reform, and was a proponent of abortion rights. This earned the ire of some, evidenced by the now infamous map on Sarah Palin’s website with a gun-sight over Gifford’s district.

“According to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, ‘We have become the Mecca of prejudice and bigotry. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. Unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital.’”

It is a mistake to try and divorce the actions of the accused shooter, Jared Loughner, from this climate. Most of the publicly available emails, YouTube posts, and notes that Loughner left behind are barely comprehensible. Still, according to a leaked Homeland Security memo, he had affinities with such groups as the anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic American Renaissance Group. Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center writes that, “At this early stage, I think Loughner is probably best described as a mentally ill or unstable person who was influenced by the rhetoric and demonizing propaganda around him…. Ideology may not explain why he allegedly killed, but it could help explain how he selected his target.”

Loughner’s state of mind was not unknown. He had five run-ins with law enforcement, was banned from the Pima County Community College until he had clearance from mental health professionals, and one of his classmates had written fearfully about Loughner’s potential for violence. But Arizona is near or at the bottom in every area of mental health services, services that are often not available for those most in need of them. Certainly those legislators who have all but dismantled the state’s mental health system bear some responsibility for the events of January 8.

Political Dimensions

If one truly wants to make some sense of what seems so senseless, one needs to know something of the history of violence that has preceded it. Since 2000, more than 2,100 persons have died crossing the Arizona/Mexican border. Along the entire U.S./Mexico border, according to the Mexican Foreign Ministry, 6,607 undocumented workers have perished since 1994—the year the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. Last year, 256 persons died crossing the Arizona borderlands, up 53 over the previous year. This was the highest number in five years and the second highest since 2000. The dead are victims of free trade and neoliberal economic policies that have destroyed rural communities, causing a virtual forced march to the U.S. and maquiladora sweatshops in a hunt for jobs. They are victims of border militarization that funnels undocumented workers into the harshest areas of the desert where death is a constant risk due to exposure and lack of water. And there are other victims as well.

On January 3, a 14-year-old boy, Ramses Barrón Torres, was killed in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico by a shot fired by a Border Patrol agent in Nogales, Arizona. Forensic evidence indicates he was shot while his back was turned. The bullet entered through the back of his arm and into his chest.

On December 15, 2010, Border Patrol agent Brian Terry became another victim of this “war,” killed in a firefight with gangs that prey on border crossers.

On March 27, 2010, Robert Krentz was killed on his ranch near the border. Krentz, known as a man who would give aid to anyone in need, had said about undocumented workers, “You know, if they come in and ask for water, I’ll still give them water. That’s just my nature.”

The main author of Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB1070 law, state Senator Russell Pearce, seized on the occasion of Krentz’s murder to declare that it was committed by “illegal alien drug smugglers.” Pearce is known for his friendship with neo-Nazi leader J.T. Ready and has even circulated emails from the Neo-Nazi National Alliance. These associations apparently haven’t hurt his political career as he was recently elected president of the Arizona Senate.

Pearce’s refrain about the murder of Krentz was echoed repeatedly by major media outlets. However, two months later, the Arizona Daily Star published a report that the main suspect in the murder was someone from the United States. Now even that statement has been retracted and authorities are saying they simply do not know where the assailant came from.

Nevertheless, anger over Krentz’s murder fueled quick passage of SB1070 and prompted President Obama to send 1,200 troops to the U.S.-Mexico Border—although Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) had asked for 6,000.

On April 15, the day the state legislature passed SB1070, Immigration and Customs Enforcement undertook the largest raid in its history in majority Chicano and Mexicano South Tucson, with 800 agents from every level of enforcement, federal to local. The city was assaulted with a military-style raid, with streets shut down by heavily armed officers and support helicopters flying overhead. People were stopped and pulled out of vans simply because they fit the profile of possibly undocumented immigrants. Passenger vans were confiscated as “evidence” from small businesses which were in full compliance with the law, operating transportation services between Nogales and Tucson.

The timing of that raid seemed almost a federal endorsement of the intent of SB1070, which would require that non-federal immigration law enforcement agencies enforce federal immigration laws. Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act already paves the way for this to happen. SB1070 is just a more extreme version.

A little less than a year before the Krentz murder, on May 30, 2009, Shawna Forde and her companions, Jason Bush and Albert Gaxiola, posed as law enforcement officers, entered the house of Raul Flores to rob him in order to fund the Minutemen organization led by Forde. They then murdered both Flores and his nine-year-old daughter, Brisenia, whose mother was also wounded. That incident, however, led to no outcry for related legislation, no demands for increased protection against paramilitaries, and no subsequent actions from federal, state, and local police agents.

Mecca of Prejudice

According to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, “We have become the Mecca of prejudice and bigotry. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. Unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital.”

But Arizona has not always been like this, especially not in Tucson. Incidents of violence and anti-immigrant bias rose considerably following the passage of NAFTA. According to the Economic Policy Institute, in the United States, “Between 1993 and 2002, NAFTA resulted in an increase in exports that created 794,194 jobs, but it displaced production that would have supported 1,673,454 jobs. Thus, the combined effect of changes in imports and exports as a result of NAFTA was a loss of 879,280 U.S. jobs.”

Between 1990 and 2004, the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the U.S. tripled. With the passage of NAFTA, by 2002, 1.3 million farming jobs had been lost in Mexico and immigration of all kinds to the U.S. from Mexico rose 60 percent. NAFTA led to a 240 percent increase in exports of corn from the U.S. to Mexico, while the prices paid to Mexican farmers for corn fell by more than 70 percent.

But rather than address the core reason for the loss of jobs on both sides of the border, the rhetoric of hate and the politics of polarization have been used to advance the idea that undocumented workers from Mexico are to blame for economic hard times in the U.S. And this has added fuel to the fire of increased political violence and literal casualties of war along our borders.

However, in U.S. border areas, despite the rhetoric, crime rates are actually down, including for violent crimes. (Of course, the thousands of migrants dying in the desert are not counted as crime victims.) It has also been shown that, throughout the nation, where there are high concentrations of immigrant communities, crime rates are also lower than average. Yet lies and misinformation abound and are given as reasons for more militarization and criminalization. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, for instance, has made unsubstantiated claims that headless bodies left by “illegals” and drug traffickers have been found on the Arizona side of the border. But when challenged to give documentation, she can produce none.

Protesting Anti-Immigrant Actions

The night before the massacre, I was at the birthday of a local immigrant rights activist and head of the local Veterans for Peace. In the early morning hours, there were a small number of us, people from the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a woman who works with Latina victims of domestic violence, people from the Catholic Worker House and soup kitchen, a teacher in one of the few surviving bilingual public schools, staff and volunteers from the organization I work for, the Alliance for Global Justice—some of us musicians, some artists. It was an animated bunch. We talked about how great it was that we were able to beat back well-funded campaigns against Grijalva and Giffords.

We talked about the struggle to defend against attacks on ethnic education—a program that produces a far higher rate of high school graduates than the rate for students who don’t take these classes. We talked about an upcoming demonstration against the wars, and how we have to educate the rest of the country about how there is a war going on here, too. We had a wonderful time and went home and went to sleep.

On Saturday morning, we woke up to the news of the attack on Giffords and others attending her “Congress on Your Corner” event. Around the same time, we heard about an incident of vandalism at the César Chávez Building on the University of Arizona campus—supposedly unrelated events.

We were saddened, but not surprised. Some of us, like Derechos Humanos founder Isabel Garcia, had received numerous death threats in the past. In fact, one group of anti-immigrant activists printed T-shirts with Isabel’s picture in a gun-sight. Recently, a death threat was sent to the Derechos Humanos office that threatened its members and claimed to have paid $500,000 for Isabel’s murder. Law enforcement, including the FBI, were notified several times, but there has been no follow-up investigation. We’ve seen anti-immigrant paramilitary members come to our rallies carrying guns. During the electoral campaigns, the offices of both Grijalva and Giffords were vandalized and one man was arrested with a gun at a Giffords campaign rally.

Many of us who were gathered at the party on Friday, January 7 were also at a press conference at the Arizona state building on January 10 to announce our opposition to a new attempt by states to take away the Fourteenth Amendment right of citizenship for babies born in the U.S. to undocumented workers. (Yes, now even babies are in the crosshairs of anti-immigrant sentiment.) However, despite the particular subject of the event, none of us could help but speak about Saturday’s shootings. Isabel talked of her own friendship with Giffords and said, “We’ve never preached hate. Our message has always been a message of love.”

We can end this war in Arizona and elsewhere. Let’s start by getting rid of NAFTA, by tearing down the border wall, by demilitarizing our border lands and decriminalizing workers, and by offering real immigration reform. Let’s start by stopping this racist, violence-breeding hate.


Links
Resources

New Release by David Bacon: Displaced, Unequal and Criminalized-Fighting for the Rights of Migrants in the United States: http://www.rosalux-nyc.org/displaced-unequal-and-criminalized/

Cruising on Military Drive: ‘Good’ Latinos and ‘Bad’ Latinos in the Age of Homeland Security and Global War by Robert Lovato: http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v20n3/levato_latinos.html

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America’s Immigration Organization Resource List: http://www.crln.org/Immigration-Organization-Resources

The Undocumented, 2013 film & resources: http://theundocumented.com/