The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Dying at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Apr 25, 2016

When it comes to people dying trying to cross a border, the United States rivals Europe.

No one knows exactly how many migrants have died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, but the number is in the thousands. Since January 2010, almost 50 people have been killed by the border patrol itself. And border patrol agents almost never face charges or discipline for killing migrants.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Between 2001 and 2015, one county medical examiner received the remains of 2,200 people who died crossing the border. Another examination of federal records estimated that between 1998 and 2014, more than 6,000 people had died trying to cross. These people died trying to walk through vast, unmarked deserts. Many died of thirst or exposure. Others died in the cold, in the Arizona mountains.

Every single one of these people was murdered, killed because of policies put in place by the U.S. government to make it harder to cross in safe places.

The Obama administration has extended massive walls along much of the border, and the government has stepped up deportations, especially from the border region. This means that people go even further to get around the fences and avoid the beefed-up border patrols. And it means that many people try to cross twice or three times, risking the dangers of the desert again and again after they are expelled.

On top of that, the U.S. Congress passed a law almost unanimously that makes it a felony to use a tunnel to cross the border. This means that anyone caught using a tunnel will spend years in jail – and then be deported anyway. So to avoid the tunnels, immigrants take even more dangerous routes, even further into the desert.

Crossing a sea in a rickety boat, or crossing a desert – what’s the difference? In the end, the policies of the rich countries in Europe and the United States are equally murderous.