Wednesday, March 13, 2013

AZMEX I3 7-3-13

AZMEX I3 7 MAR 2013

At Arizona's border morgue, bodies keep coming
By Elliot Spagat / Associated Press
Posted: 03/07/2013 09:56:59 AM MST

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - The body of Ildefonso Martinez arrived on a
Friday night last April as John Doe, Case No. 12-01000. He wore black
Nike shoes, a Perry Ellis belt, jeans with a 34-inch waist, a Casio
For medical examiners at the Pima County morgue, his was an unusual
case. Not in how he died - making the same arduous journey that has
claimed thousands of illegal immigrants - but rather because he was
identified so quickly.
The death of migrants crossing the border has long been a tragic
consequence of illegal immigration and, many say, the increase in
U.S. border enforcement. For some, the problem is a powerful
motivator in pushing Congress to act this year on immigration reform.
But critics say proposals offered so far call for more enforcement
with few specifics on how to save lives.
"The language coming out is alarmingly more of the same," said Kat
Rodriguez of Coalicion de Derechos Humanos in Tucson, who gathers
information on missing migrants from family and friends to give to
medical examiners trying to identify the dead.
Thousands more Border Patrol agents, hundreds of miles of fencing,
and cameras, sensors and aircraft have made it more difficult to
enter the U.S. illegally, prompting smugglers to guide migrants to
remote deserts. People walk up to a week in debilitating heat, often
with enough bottled water and canned tuna to last only days.
While illegal crossings have dropped dramatically in past years,
hundreds of bodies are still found annually on the border. Border
agents conduct more than 1,000 rescues each year, and humanitarian
groups have placed water stations along the boundary in hope of helping.
In the last 15 years, at least 5,513 migrants have been found dead
along the 1,954-mile border with Mexico, including 463 in fiscal year
2012, the Border Patrol reports.
The Tucson sector - which since 2001 has accounted for more migrant
deaths than any other Border Patrol sector - located 177 bodies in
the last fiscal year. Texas' Rio Grande Valley saw the greatest jump
in bodies found: 150 last year compared to 66 in 2011.
In that state, migrants cross the Rio Grande, catch a ride north and
then hike for days on vast ranches in Brooks County to avoid a
highway checkpoint. The county has no medical examiner and does not
test DNA of deceased migrants, who are buried in unnamed graves at a
cemetery in the town of Falfurrias.
The situation is similar to what Pima County authorities faced when
Arizona became the busiest corridor for illegal crossings more than a
decade ago.
"We had no idea this storm was on the horizon," said Bruce Anderson,
a forensic anthropologist in Tucson.
At the Pima County Forensic Science Center on The University of
Arizona Medical Center campus, file cabinets hold dossiers on more
than 700 unidentified corpses discovered since the late 1990s. Many
bodies were too decomposed to identify. Others carried false
identification or no identification.
Coolers for 262 corpses and refrigerated trucks on call with room for
another 45 give the nation's 30th-largest city one of the country's
largest morgues.
"Nobody has this problem. Nobody," said Dr. Gregory Hess, Pima County
medical examiner. His office rules on more than 2,000 deaths a year
by murder, suicide and other causes, but migrants pose the biggest
challenge because they so often cannot be identified.
Since 2001, the office has examined the bodies of 2,067 border
crossers, the vast majority of them Mexican men. Men like Ildefonso
Martinez, 39, was born and raised in a farming village in the central
Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. After paying a smuggler some $200
to get him across the border, he settled in the San Diego area in the
early 1990s and worked whatever odd jobs he could find.
Then last March, he agreed to watch the cash register at a friend's
convenience store. A sheriff's deputy who required a signature on a
regulatory notice turned suspicious when Martinez produced a Mexican
consular identification card. The deputy called the Border Patrol,
and Martinez was deported.
Left behind in California were his wife, Juana Garcia, and five
children and stepchildren. Desperate to return to them, Martinez
tried crossing three times in the mountains east of San Diego but was
Then he decided to try his luck in Arizona. "It will be one night and
one day, and we'll be there," Martinez told another crosser, Isaac
Jimenez, whom he convinced to come with him.
Jimenez would later share with The Associated Press what happened
during the two men's journey north.
At 7 p.m. on Friday, April 20, he said, they crossed into the U.S.
with 19 others at Lukeville, a border town 150 miles south of
Phoenix. For 10 hours the group traipsed through the desert before
resting in a cave. They had resumed their trek under a blazing sun
for four more hours when Martinez collapsed.
"'I'm too young to die,'" Jimenez remembered him saying.
"Then he said he didn't know who I was. He began to go crazy, to lose
his memory," Jimenez told the AP.
The smuggler insisted the group abandon Martinez, but Jimenez said he
stayed, rubbing alcohol on his friend's hot, swollen body and
starting a small fire to draw attention. About two hours later, when
Jimenez left in search of cellphone coverage, Martinez's eyeballs
were rolling and he had stopped talking.
What happened next is unclear. Jimenez said he dialed 911 after about
three hours of walking and insists the Border Patrol agents who drove
him back to Mexico assured him they would find his friend. The Border
Patrol said in a statement that agents arrested Jimenez but that it
had no record of him pleading on behalf of Martinez.
Five days later, after frantic phone calls from Martinez's
stepdaughter to U.S. and Mexican officials, Border Patrol agents met
Jimenez at the Lukeville border crossing and he quickly led them to
the body. Birds circled above.
At the Pima County Forensic Science Center, the cause of death was
listed as probable hyperthermia. Typically, investigators measure
bones and examine teeth to determine gender, date of death, age and
other characteristics. If the skin is dried up, they may soak a hand
in fluid called sodium hydroxide, rehydrating it to get fingerprints.
Relatives searching for missing loved ones are pressed for details.
Any chipped or gold teeth? Tattoos or scars? Broken bones?
"It's like a puzzle," said Robin Reineke, a cultural anthropology
graduate student at The University of Arizona who interviews families
and feels comforted when her work helps ease their anguish. "I've
talked with some of these families for five years. They've been
waiting for that long for an answer."
One in three migrant corpses remains unidentified, forcing
investigators to send bone or blood samples out for DNA testing. Some
bodies stay in coolers for more than a year.
Until the mid-2000s, unidentified remains were buried in Tucson. Now
they are cremated to save money. Lockers at the center store the
keepsakes of those who go unclaimed: a digital music player, $20
bills, paper with scribbled phone numbers.
With Martinez, investigators had a lot to go on: The personal
belongings his family eventually would identify, including a business
card for his dentist back in California. Examiners were able to
obtain his dental records and make a positive match.
The Mexican government will pay to bring corpses home, but Martinez's
family scraped together $16,000 to bury him near their San Diego
apartment, the living room walls lined with portraits of his
mustachioed face.
"Here we go see him every weekend," said stepdaughter Gladys Dominguez.
Juana, 43, speaks warmly of Jimenez for attempting to save her
husband's life. He settled in Fresno, Calif., after sneaking back
across the border, and said he wanted the widow to know her husband's
last words.
"He did all that he could," she said. Now she hopes that the U.S.
government finds a way to do more to prevent such deaths.
"People like my husband need immigration reform," she said. "There
are lots of people like him."
Martinez was buried last May, on Gladys' 19th birthday. The
gravestone bears a photo of him with Juana at their 2010 wedding and
reads, "Juntos Por Siempre." Together Forever.
AP reporter Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, contributed to
this report.

Note: about some of the many who didn't make it that far.

Rescatan en Chiapas a 26 centroamericanos víctimas de trata laboral
Personal del INM rescata a los indocumentados, que eran sujetos de
explotación laboral, entre ellos a diez menores de edad
07/03/2013 14:37

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO, 7 de marzo.- Las autoridades mexicanas rescataron
en el estado de Chiapas a 26 inmigrantes centroamericanos, entre
ellos 10 menores de edad, víctimas de "trata laboral", y detuvieron a
una presunta traficante de niños, informó este jueves el Instituto
Nacional de Migración (INM).

En un comunicado, el organismo precisó que los indocumentados, la
mayoría guatemaltecos, fueron encontrados en dos operativos
realizados en el municipio de Pijijiapan, ubicado en la costa del
Pacífico mexicano cerca a la frontera sur del país.

En uno de ellos, agentes migratorios rescataron 11 guatemaltecos (5
hombres, 2 mujeres y 4 niños), quienes tenían más de 10 días viviendo
en la calle "en condiciones de extrema precariedad", a la espera de
"recibir el pago de su salario por servicios prestados a un particular".

Los indocumentados "explicaron que desde hace dos meses sus patrones
no les habían liquidado su salario, por lo que permanecieron en el
lugar pese a que varios niños, entre ellos un bebé de 8 meses,
presentaban diversos problemas de salud", pues carecían de recursos
para llegar a su país, indicó el INM.

Este grupo informó a los agentes que a unos kilómetros del lugar
estaban otros 13 inmigrantes, entre ellos una mujer que recientemente
había dado a luz a un bebé y estaba delicada de salud, por lo que
todos fueron llevados a albergues "para brindarles toda la atención
médica y alimentaria que requerían".

En el segundo caso fue detenida en un punto de control migratorio la
mexicana Ana Gertrudis López Reyes, de 58 años, por trasladar
ilegalmente a bordo de un vehículo a dos menores salvadoreños.

Los menores fueron trasladados a una estación migratoria, "donde se
les brinda todo el apoyo y protección para tratar de localizar a
alguno de sus familiares", indicó la institución.

México es zona de paso obligado de miles de indocumentados
centroamericanos que pretenden llegar a Estados Unidos, los cuales
son a menudo víctimas de traficantes de personas y de otros grupos
del crimen organizado.


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