Saturday, August 08, 2009

Another Deadly Summer

If you peruse the archives of this site, you'll see many posts from me agonizing about the constant drumbeat of death that occurs in the desert as the summer heat blazes and economic policies continue to pull humanity to El Norte. This summer has been particularly deadly:
The bodies of six illegal immigrants have been found in the past three days along Arizona's stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, continuing a deadly summer in the desert.

Law enforcement officials recovered two bodies each on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as the scorching summer heat continued. Temperatures have reached 100 degrees or higher in Southern Arizona each of the past 13 days, said National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Zell.

From Oct. 1 through July 31, Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector had recovered the bodies of 161 illegal immigrants, an 18 percent increase from the 137 bodies found during the same time last year, said Mike Lee, Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman. The sector stretches from New Mexico to Yuma County.

Arizona Daily Star (emphasis mine)
Where's Obama? Where's Janet? This human rights catastrophe is happening in a jurisdiction that she has overseen since 2002; first as Arizona's governor, now as the Secretary of Homeland Security.

They are no better than George W. Bush on border policy.

Rhetoric-wise there is a difference, but that doesn't muster any clout when you have people stripping off their clothes out of desperation to escape the scorching sun. The American people find it easy to blame border crossers for their own deaths. "They had it coming."

Yet they ignore the maquilas that sit conveniently on one side of an imaginary line so that brown skinned workers can produce goods for pennies on the dollar. Mujeres being raped and disappeared by the thousands in Juarez. Pollution that infects the workers and those living along watersheds - all in the name of economic stability for those privileged enough to be on the benefitting side of the T-account.

Where is the change, Mr. President? Secretary Salazar recently gave positive signals to humanitarian groups, but how will that translate to a shift in paradigm and treatment of our brothers and sisters south of the line?

Even as this shell game continued, Ed McCullough and several other No More Deaths volunteers were invited to meet with Jane Lyder, assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. The message they toted back to Washington, D.C., was simple, says McCullough, a retired dean of the UA College of Science, and the group's official cartographer: "We told them there were people dying in the desert, and the primary cause of death was heat-related problems related to the lack of water. And we told them that we wanted to put water out.

"Secretary Salazar came in about 15 minutes after the meeting started and talked about his concern with what's happening to the migrants in the desert," McCullough recalls. "He said he's had a general concern about immigration problems for a very long time. He also said there were laws among the various government agencies, and anyone proposing what we're proposing would have to work within the law."

McCullough says he and the other volunteers left the meeting with a sense "that they wanted to work something out with the humanitarian groups."

If that's the case, it does signal a mood for compromise. But this is precisely where the rubber hits the road.

Hawkes was out of town and unavailable for comment. But in a recent interview with the Tucson Weekly, he made his position clear. When asked whether No More Deaths will be allowed to put out water, he replied: "Not the way they want to do it. But they can drive around the refuge and hand out cups of water all they want."

Tucson Weekly (emphasis mine)

Unfortunately, that is the situation we face as long as Washington does nothing to end the funnel of death along la frontera and the economic instability that keeps currency in Latin América dependent upon the whims of the greenback.

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