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Border Trilogy Part 2: Hold the Line

Friday, April 06, 2018 - 01:31 AM

Border Trilogy 

While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh.

This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness.  In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.”

Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it.


Part 2: Hold the Line

After the showdown in court with Bowie High School, Border Patrol brings in a fresh face to head its dysfunctional El Paso Sector: Silvestre Reyes. The first Mexican-American to ever hold the position, Reyes knows something needs to change and has an idea how to do it. One Saturday night at midnight, with the element of surprise on his side, Reyes unveils ... Operation Blockade. It wins widespread support for the Border Patrol in El Paso, but sparks major protests across the Rio Grande. Soon after, he gets a phone call that catapults his little experiment onto the national stage, where it works so well that it diverts migrant crossing patterns along the entire U.S.-Mexico Border.

Years later, in the Arizona desert, anthropologist Jason de León realizes that in order to accurately gauge how many migrants die crossing the desert, he must first understand how human bodies decompose in such an extreme environment. He sets up a macabre experiment, and what he finds is more drastic than anything he could have expected.

This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte, and was produced by Matt Kielty, Bethel Habte and Latif Nasser.

Special thanks to Sherrie Kossoudji at the University of Michigan, Cheryl Howard, Andrew Hansen, William Sabol, Donald B. White, Daniel Martinez, Michelle Mittelstadt at the Migration Policy Institute, Former Executive Assistant to the El Paso Mayor Mark Smith, Retired Assistant Border Patrol Sector Chief Clyde Benzenhoefer, Paul Anderson, Eric Robledo, Maggie Southard Gladstone and Kate Hall.

 Support Radiolab today at


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that Silvestre Reyes's brother died in a car accident in 1968; it was actually his father who died in the accident.  We also omitted a detail about the 1997 GAO report that we quote, namely that it predicted that as deaths in the mountains and deserts might rise, deaths in other areas might also fall. The audio has been adjusted accordingly.



Jason de Leon, Tim Dunn, Kate Hall, Doris Meissner and Silvestre Reyes

Produced by:

Bethel Habte, Tracie Hunte, Matt Kielty and Latif Nasser


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Comments [35]

Linda Kurtz

It takes a scientific study to understand that vultures, coyotes, etc are going to eat dead animals?! I find it incredible that a physical anthropologist, let alone any thinking human being with a grade-school education wouldn't be aware of that. I grew up near Arivaca, in that country the physical anthropologist couldn't believe existed, that was "like another world." I hiked it almost daily. I have an M.A. in anthropology and archaelogy. Apparently her phys anthro education didn't include discussion of carrion-eaters. Don't these people think the desert would be utterly littered with bones of deer, rabbits, coyotes, skunks, etc if things weren't quickly cleaned up by hungry animals. Not to mention the fact that bones get washed away in heavy rains. It's seldom, if ever, that one finds the bones of large animals in the desert, and if one does, it's usually the skulls, hip bones, and vertebraie of cattle (all huge bones). Smaller animal bones, like coyote, are usually found only if they are fairly recently dead, and it's an uncommon phenonmenon.

Apr. 21 2018 02:15 PM
ANGELICA B. from Tucson by way of El Paso

Great series. I love the attention that has been brought to what happened. I love my home town and any attention it gets. (#voteforbeto). My only nit picky criticism is that as a native El Pasoan, I can tell you no one who lives in El Paso pronounces it El Pah-so. It's El Pass - o. Think of the Pass. That's what it means. This is especially if you are not primarily a Spanish speaking person. So listening to this reporter mispronounce it over and over like he is trying to use a Spanish accent is making me cringe. I'm sure he wouldn't say Los Angeles or San Antonio with a Spanish accent. That would just sound dumb. At least Jad got it right.

Apr. 20 2018 08:35 AM
April from Spokane, WA

Hi Jad and Robert,
I would like to know who the woman is near the end of this episode who says we as a nation need to look at the reality of why people cross the border - the jobs. And that if we don't address that we'll never deal with this honestly.

Apr. 18 2018 03:03 AM
Greg from Midwest US

You dropped the ball on this one, then proceeded to kick the snot out of the poor ball.
I don't always agree with RadioLab, but I ALWAYS learn something, and always think about the topic, often in a new light.
With Part 2, I learned the RadioLab can be just as guilty as the far left and far right media with taking a tiny tidbit of information, mis-interpreting it horribly, twisting it around, and creating an issue to fit their goal. Appendix 5, indeed!
RadioLab makes the implication repeatedly that the Indicator is the Goal.


Apr. 18 2018 12:00 AM
Drobles602 from Tucson, AZ

The majority of the listeners that think this talk is was bias have probably never been to the border. As a University of Arizona student I was able to take a trip to the Nogales border and met with border portal angents. In addition we went to Arivaca and the culture there was being the first responders to illegal immigrants. The majority of people living there are white Americans and their town is trapped between the border and a border portal check point. They basically cannot leave their city without being checked by agents. In this comment section people are talking about the reduction of pedi crimes to be a success for hundreds of immigrants dying. People in the border (or at least a great portion) prefer to save lives and deal with their hoes being stolen. If you come to AZ their is a lot of great people trying to save lives no matter if they are illegal... it just makes sense.

Apr. 15 2018 09:03 PM
Steve from NYC

I agree with a number of other commenters that this well-researched and fascinating piece was a rare example of a Radiolab report that left the listener waiting for the take home point or at least a more thorough examination of what exactly the viable options are that we have to choose from.

We clearly see that the desire of migrants to seek a better life and the desire of the US to control the borders places us uncomfortably on the horns of a dilemma, but I think we need a part three to learn if there is an acceptable solution.

I also agree with some of the others that the human cost, as tragic as that is, was presented somewhat unfairly. We hear from residents of El Paso how much better things were once the border patrol was successful in doing it's job and then we learn that variations on this strategy led to migrants losing their lives.

Could you have explored more in depth the idea proposed by the former Commissioner to create a program to admit migrants to do the agriculture jobs they often fill? Would that work? Cost? Feasability? Would that actually reduce illegal immigration?

Great series but left me with more questions than answers (or potential options)

Apr. 13 2018 11:43 AM
Patrick from Washington, DC

As a 31 y.o. this is so informative and educational re how we arrived at the current-day fiasco of the border. Blew my mind that it started during the Clinton admin. I was in E.P. for a semester back in 2005, and even at that point, the idea of the crossing being a hole in a fence steps away from a HS is inconceivable. Really appreciate the work that went into this series (as well as all the other wonderful stories y'all research). Please never stop!

Apr. 11 2018 09:02 PM
Nathan Noonan from Omaha, NE

I lean pretty far to the left, and I think we should do all we can to get people to not attempt dangerous border crossings into the United States. It's sad to see these people are throwing their lives away. But I feel like it is silly to insinuate the United States has blood on its hands for trying to stop people from entering the country illegally. It seems like the alternative is open borders? Am I missing something?

Apr. 10 2018 06:55 PM

I feel conflicted about this episode and agree with Taylor Elze - the conversation did not go deep enough or explore all sides. As I listened I could hear how one-sided this story was. Which is fine depending on an outlet’s goals. Like Taylor said, Radiolab can do what they want, but I always loved how Radiolab used to explore all sides of an issue and present their listeners with everything ... then we could decide how we felt or take what we knew and keep discussing. This episode did not do that. I’m hoping 3 is better, but I’m not holding my breath.

Apr. 10 2018 02:54 PM
Taylor Elze from Roseville, CA

I don't mind the question of "Does our Country have responsibility in the matter?". That is fair dialogue. But I don't think the program fairly assessed the question of whether the immigrants themselves who choose to cross have responsibility. Why was this not even explored?

Radiolab has always been great with at least presenting the human dilemma (of both sides) when it comes to certain stories and issues - even if they come to a conclusion I may disagree with I always respect how they approach the issue. I felt like these episodes on the border were not fairly explored.

My grandpa is Mexican who immigrated from Chihuahua and married an anglo woman - had 12 children: Gaye, Melody, Lark, Jolly, Sunny, Delight, Happy, Robin, Alfonso, Enrique, and Miguel. I am one of his grandchildren. As far as I know and the evidence we have, he came to this country legally. I empathize with the people who come for a better life and feel like they have to risk their life to come across through the desert and possibly die. My grandfather, after all, probably came for many of the same reasons. However, my position is such that it is wrong to illegally enter a border of a country - as sad as it is for any deaths, they chose to take that risk (and I do not say that lightly).

For a person like me, with a family history like mine - why wasn't this view explored? If I don't believe that the U.S. is to blame for the deaths - am I racist? Should my view be considered heartless or wrong?

Radiolab can do whatever they want - but if they want a program that truly brings people together and gets the conversation going - they must do better.

Apr. 10 2018 12:34 PM
Z from Not the East Coast

El Paawhso

Apr. 09 2018 11:08 PM
VH from Florida

I have been listening to Radio Lab for years and have loved every episode, with this episode being the exception. It was very evident that the producers were sucked in by Jason de Leon’s “research.” I found the assertion that the United States is intentionally responsible for the deaths of people choosing to cross treacherous terrain to gain access to the country both disturbing and absurd. My political stance is moderate with a lean toward the left, however, the end of the show was so obviously skewed and manipulative, I was compelled to comment. The show has always been above this! As a side note, the research using the two pigs was ridiculous. What else would you expect in an environment full of wildlife?! The vultures were doing what they’re supposed to do, and to spin it into anything else is unreasonable.

Apr. 09 2018 05:36 PM

Dave, Colin:

The guitar thing is a riff I recorded with Dylan Keefe's Fender Statocaster. It only exists here in this episode.

But if you ever want to listen to electric Fahey-style stuff, just listen to this over and over again:

Apr. 09 2018 04:14 PM
Jim G from Omaha

What I would do to improve the situation is step up enforcement of the penalties on the employers who hire illegals and create the magnet that draws them to come in the first place. We have laws on the books to do this we just need to actually enforce t hem. Basically I think these people are dying so that greedy people can have cheap labor and votes

Apr. 09 2018 02:59 PM
Jim G from Omaha

Fences at prisons cause prisoners to get hurt even killed when trying to escape or make them use other more risky routes when trying to escape. So Clearly we should get rid of the fences and just let them leave whenever they feel like it. If the criminals hurt some innocent people as a result too bad.

Apr. 09 2018 02:54 PM
Mark from Austin, Tx

As usual you guys are doing a phenomenal job on reporting.

But please stop miss-pronouncing "El Paso"! It's pronounced "El p-ASS-o" not "El p-AH-so".

Apr. 09 2018 09:25 AM
Stephen Kilpatrick from Central Ohio

The repeated assertion that the U.S. bears some responsibility for the deaths of ILLEGAL aliens crossing into our country is absolutely absurd. It is the illegal aliens' responsibility ALONE. They are the ones who chose to attempt to ILLEGALLY enter our country. They alone bear responsibility for the consequences. The fact that RadioLab keeps pressing that our government or our people bear responsibility just shows the liberal/progressive/communist mindset that you have. You want the government to be responsible for EVERYTHING (even for lawbreakers) so that individuals don't have to accept ANY responsibility for their own lives. I am the complete opposite end of that spectrum. I love freedom and accept complete responsibility for my own life. I wish everyone else would, too.

Apr. 08 2018 08:01 PM
Dave from Riga, Latvia

Can anyone tell me what is the music (band, song title?) playing from 18:10 until 18:52?

Apr. 08 2018 02:57 PM
Akaysha from California

You are very poor journalists. Every time I think, "yes, I'd like to support investigative journalism, and I usually enjoy this podcast," you do something to horridly skew a statement of fact, such as leave out the full predicted outcome. Your bias is awful and undermines people who want to implement social change to create a more fair society.

Deaths of aliens attempting entry.

Predicted outcome if AG’s strategy is successful:
Depends on how enforcement resources are allocated. In some cases, deaths may be reduced or prevented (by fencing along highways, for example). In other cases, deaths may increase (as enforcement in urban areas forces aliens to attempt mountain or desert crossings).

Apr. 07 2018 11:58 PM
Mpathy from US

Perhaps borders shouldn't exist. Perhaps we could all be one people, one world. Yes, that would be the humanitarian ideal, but will humanity ever ascend to a plane that would allow that? If you are suggesting that, Jad, Robert, say so. What would be the political, financial, societal ramifications of such a policy? Perhaps that would be a worthy topic to explore. Meanwhile, while borders exist around the world, what do they mean? What policies should govern their use? If it is to be a hard and fast line, one that is enforced with the idea that crossing this line without authorization is subject to penalty, then ALL of the responsibility lies with the one(s) choosing to cross. Outrage at the border by immigrants who are offended that we are keeping them out by enforcing our laws is misplaced. It reflects the sense of entitlement that many have because they have made working in the US a lifestyle. Giving aid to those who cross will only encourage those who have yet to do so. There is a big "but" here, however. What if we acknowledged that migrants are often escaping suffering, poverty, abuse, or war? What if we acted, not as one tribe protecting our territory (and to hell with everyone else), but as humans - co-inhabitants of this one earth? I acknowledge that borders are needed for many reasons, at least for now, but is there not a way to adopt a policy of compassion? Perhaps we initiate a lottery system, or a screening process. One that acknowledges the suffering and need of those seeking protection, solace, and security in our land? Is there no way we can work WITH other governments to both acknowledge national borders and to practice the kind of immigration policy enshrined on none other than the statue of liberty? These are not easy questions. Some will say that we already have a screening process, and that it is being exploited or detoured around. If the line is to remain hard and fast, then more power to blockades, national guard troops, and walls. My hope is, however, that we will move away from a nationalistic way of viewing ourselves, and move in the direction of human compassion.

Apr. 07 2018 04:51 PM
Colin F from Bellingham WA

Another great episode, I'm really looking forward to the close of this 3-parter.

Quick question, where is the guitar track sourced from at the break around 18:14?

Apr. 07 2018 04:23 PM
Matthew K from Norway (by way of US)

As others pointed out, they are not examining the other sovereign nation states’ context of where the migrants are coming from. This point is often shared as an anti-immigration sentiment, but it often misses a bigger point. If you're going to pull back the layers of and expand the view, then let's also explore US' history of foreign policy in Latin America and Mexico, and look deeper into NAFTA (not just in terms of how the US is 'winning' or 'losing'), but how this international trade agreement has affected other countries. It’s a narrative rarely spoken about in the US, largely due to global power structures and American-centric media bias. For example, the US is so concerned about election meddling on its own turf, yet it has had its finger on the dial of 'democratic' elections throughout Latin America and the middle east. I bring this up to say, if we are broadening our scope to discuss causes of migration, let’s not stop at the Mexican government's culpability.

Thanks for broadcasting this trilogy and I'm looking forward to Episode 3!

Apr. 07 2018 12:31 PM
Matthew K from Norway (by way of US)

Great episode, Radiolab team! Not all forays into the socio-political world have been perfect, but episodes like ‘The Rhino Hunter’ and the More Perfect Spin-off are great examples that reflect the shows willingness and skill in delving outside of the natural science storytelling comfort zone.

After reading some of the other comments – regarding those who are requesting an expanded view and more perspectives on the border context before making judgements about responsibility - I agree with the notion, but let’s try to assess this in this a ‘fair’ context. First, let's be fair to Radiolab, the episodes are 30-45 minutes and they aren't going to be able to unpack the totality of this situation in this time. Second, I thought they did a really great job setting up the question about bodies in the desert in part one, and coming back to it in part two. Third, the on-the-ground stories and interviews they are getting with these schools are super impressive reporting, and very engaging as usual. I've researched some before on the history of militarisation of the border and the relation of border security to NAFTA, but have not been confronted with the story of the Bowie High School in El Paso. These episodes do a great job depicting and contrasting the points of view of Washington DC (broadly politically motivated), the whole country (broadly divided through its ideological motive), and the lives and stories of those who live on the border (broadly concerned with how their lives are impacted). Based on the teaser, I expect part three to continue with a more nuanced view of how American and Mexican families living on the border are impacted. If it takes a different route, I’ll still all ears.

I agree with other commenters that it's hard to pass judgment. Jad was clearly taking a stance at the end. It’s not the first time the show has done that, and I tend to not mind, acknowledging that its simply an opinion. I find it obtrusive only when it appears that the research or narrative has been biased to arrive at such a conclusion. I don’t feel that was the case here. In this instance, it’s such a grey area that has become so black and white - probably not worth taking a political stance. Radiolab has stated facts and not misled the audience in my view in presented the data: despite border security increases, it will not prevent inevitable migration. And there’s data that shows been higher migration correlated with increased security. The US gov't by the nature of drawing attention towards more easily passable zones (with full awareness), is influencing and may or not may not be complicit in, depending on your stance, the deaths of those who cross through more treacherous and unforgiving landscapes.

Apr. 07 2018 12:31 PM

I was a bit surprised at the position of guilt or responsibility placed on the U.S. policies and the resulting increase in deaths of illegal migrants. The policies seem to do the job of protecting the country and people they are sworn to protect. But why or how is the US liable for the deaths of people who are committing a federal crime entering illegally while also *willingly* doing so, well aware of the risk of passage? How is it not the Mexican government's source of shame that their people are willing to die in the dessert to come here? How are those deaths our burden and not theirs?

Apr. 07 2018 12:14 PM
FX Turk from Central Time, USA

Hi RadioLab:

This episode was remarkably clear-headed and clear-sighted -- until the last 12 minutes. Let's ask two questions to find out how and why the clarity of the first 3/4th of the episode evaporated.

1. Is it tragic that there are people crossing the border who are dying because of their efforts? The answer, in any morally-cohesive universe, has to be "yes." It is terrible that any person is dying because they do not have shelter, food, or water. This is true in every place it happens in the world.

2. What caused the people whose remains were found in this episode to attempt to cross without food, water, or shelter? Jad's very-plain accusation in this episode is, "US Border policy forced them to do this." That answer is, in the most-generous analysis, is emotionalism at best. The argument that because US Policy analysts predicted that people would make this choice they (or as Jad put it: We) are responsible for them making that choice sounds very grave because of the stakes, but it's not very serious. Laws in all 50 states cause people under the age of 21 to drink illegally, and that drinking causes hundreds of deaths each year. Does that mean our policy is causing DWI deaths in people under 21 and therefore "we" are responsible?

If not, then we understand what happened in this episode: Jad (and the producers of this episode) made an emotionally-loaded plea to blame border policy for the irresponsible choices of people trying to illegally cross the border.

All of you can probably do better than that next time.

There is also something which, it seems to me, is being willfully overlooked in this series: why is America different than the places these people come from? Imagine this: what if there are three or five main reasons people attempting to cross the border at all costs are thinking themselves which /in their minds/ makes it worth the risk? If we understood why they think the U.S. is /better/ than where they came from, we would understand if there is anything in the U.S. worth protecting, and which therefore make border protection necessary. Maybe we could discover, from the perspective of those coming here, that the border is not necessary and we are actually no different than where they come from. If that's the case, let's please abolish the border immediately. But if it is rather true that those who are willing to risk death to come here think the U.S. has something different than where they come from which is worth protecting, let's please look at policy in a way which puts that in the right perspective.

Apr. 07 2018 09:45 AM
Rob from Western Australia

Thanks Radiolab for thought provoking productions.
As an Australian this topic is of particular interest. We too have 'illegal' migration to contend with. It's difficult; we should admit that. Who in the position of being in poor or war-wracked country would not wish to move to a country that offers more opportunities or is safer? Yet, on the other hand we do have to recognise the need for rules.
In Australia a controversy continues to rage. A previous government, in response to many people drowning on boats coming from Southeast Asia (leaky vessels operated by people 'smugglers'), decided to place people in offshore facilities (in e.g. Nauru), and deny access to the Australian legal system. The result was that the boats have stopped (and no more drownings). However, people were/are in detention facilities for years, and there are allegations of abuse, and mental anguish is consequence. So to relate it to this US/Mexican border story: people are no longer dying in the desert.
Any Australian government that decides to relax the rules, such that the boats will start coming again, will have to accept more deaths.

Apr. 07 2018 08:15 AM
YS from Bay area

I enjoyed these 2 episodes immensely. Thank you for producing them.
Part 2 seemed to take a political stance, but I hope part 3 introduces another element that further nuances the issue.

Radiolab, as far as I can remember, has been a show to dissect, as an observer, fascinating phenomena at a meta-level--this, without ever getting personally or politically involved in the dichotomy being presented. As soon anything does, I typically call into question the very motivation for creating the piece in the first place. Empathy building, political activism, and social progressivism are all important, but I don't want Radiolab to deliberately try to induce those outcomes. I want Radiolab to be genuinely and solely motivated by the prospect of discovering new and fascinating nuggets of the physical word of which humanity is a part. Good outcomes will naturally follow.

Apr. 07 2018 02:48 AM
Alexabroad from none of your business?

Great episodes. Was an amazing experience learning about these seemingly unrelated events and how they were directly linked causally. However, there was a point in the second cast where the reporting kind of went down hill. I think it started with the line "Some people want to blame the Mexican Government for not doing more, which seems like a cop-out...". After this line everything being said seemed to just want to wave the finger at American politicians and border patrol for not doing more to prevent these deaths and imply national border security should be sacrificed for making these migrants' trip easier? I mean its hard to come to any other conclusion than this: Mexico has a government that cannot be held accountable for seeing to its own citizens safety (hence Radio-labs own narrator saying expecting Mexico to do ANYTHING is a copout), that's not an interesting enough story to tell for Radiolab, so lets imply Mexican citizens dying in the desert crossing the border are entirely the responsibility of the United States, and ignore the fact that Mexico is a sovereign nation and is entirely within its own rights to take any and all actions on their sovereign territory to prevent these people from dying during the crossing, or even to actually make their lives better in Mexico? I realize many migrants are not Mexican, but they gotta go through Mexico to wind up in a landlocked desert south of the border... Would be nice to hear a part 3 where you address this whole root of the problem that isn't so american-centric. Its nice to wanna load your domestic agenda into the episode, but come on... Mexican people that would rather risk death than live in Mexico should be your focus a bit more than "Does this one line from this one report mean we wanna kill these people?". Would love to hear more about the Mexican side of the border, also would love to know why we need to be held to any higher standard than any other sovereign nation.... Unless I'm just copping out?

Apr. 06 2018 11:41 PM
Terri from Corvallis, Oregon

I am a big fan of Radiolab but I must say that I was very disturbed by the latest podcast: Border Trilogy, part 2. There's no doubt that it is an extraordinary tragedy that so many are dying in the desert as they struggle to get into the US illegally. However, at the conclusion of the podcast, you seemed to imply that it is 'our' fault, as a nation, that this is happening. I am a loyal, lifetime Democrat and I am deeply disturbed by the current president, his policies, his attitudes and what he is doing to destroy our democracy. But, in no way do I think that we, as a nation, are to be held responsible for these deaths in the desert. The people that are crossing the desert are making a choice to do so. No doubt they have their reasons but the risk they take to come here illegally is well known to them. Perhaps we need to stop offering employment to illegal immigrants or issue them seasonal work permits. I agree that some immigration policy reform is absolutely necessary but isn't it interesting how supportive the citizens of El Paso were when the uncontrolled flow of illegal immigrants was halted by the Border patrol's deterrence policy. It is not fair to those that obey the law and try to immigrate legally to our nation to then also tolerate unending illegal immigration. I am not aware of another Western country that would tolerate it either.

Apr. 06 2018 10:56 PM
Dee from US

By using harsh language about border enforcement (such as threatening to send the national guard to the border) Trump has likely deterred people from taking on the dangerous journey to cross the border, which often involves shady human smugglers, cartels, and unforgiving deserts. When people think they can cross over with impunity, that’s when they attempt to cross.

Harsh language and border enforcement may save lives.

Apr. 06 2018 10:16 PM
Sara from Seattle

When I lived in Mexico doing research, I did a presentation on border crossing. Nobody at the time had any idea of the magnitude of the dangers of crossing. I heard of stories of people never hearing back from loved ones assumed dead. I want to point out that many crossing come from rural indigenous areas where education and access to information is limited. We also forget that our economy has disrupted economies around the world. For this podcast to be complete. I’d recommend the book, planet slum.

Dr. C

Apr. 06 2018 02:54 PM
michael from Border Town Arizona



BTW The Mexican GOVT has Kiosks on the border handing out pamphlets on how to cross the border.

Mexicos GNP depends on money sent back to it from the ILLEGALS here in OUR country!

Apr. 06 2018 02:11 PM

I was pretty put off by the insinuation that the US has to take responsibility for the illegal immigrants dying while trying to cross the border. In a way, it's a minor, minor form of victim blaming.

Think of it this way. Let's say you own a pie shop on one side of a busy freeway and on the other side of the freeway are hundreds (or thousands) of starving people. While you feel terribly for their plight and would like to do something to help them, you understand that it would be impossible for you to feed them all. You would go out of business. But these people are so desperate for food that they start running across the freeway to steal your pies and many of them die when they're hit by cars. While this scenario is incredibly horrific, it's ludicrous to suggest that the shop owner is responsible for the deaths of these people. It's not the peoples' fault that they're starving, and it's not the shop owner's fault that the starving people are risking their lives because they're starving. No matter how the shop owner feels about the situation, the bottom line is that stealing is illegal. No matter how the starving people feel about it, the bottom line is that law enforcement is expected to stop anyone who tries to steal.

So what's the solution? Who needs to take responsibility? I think we need to find the root of the problem before anything can change for the better. And the root of the problem starts in the countries that are unable or unwilling to take care of their people. If your life is so dark and hopeless that you're willing to die a horrific death in the desert for a chance to work/live in the US, then that doesn't sound like the US is to blame. The US doesn't (and shouldn't be expected to) have the resources to fix the problems these countries are facing. But this doesn't mean that the US can't do SOMETHING. We should be granting asylum to those who are fleeing from gangs, domestic violence, or threats on their lives. We should be doing more to help rescue people from smugglers who leave them to die. We should be appointing more judges to hear these immigration cases that are piling up. And we should be supporting DACA so that people who came here as children aren't torn from their homes and sent back to a country they don't remember.

Apr. 06 2018 01:39 PM
Debra Curtis from Niles, MI

This was a shocking revelation. I'm so glad this issue is being studied, because it obviously is a blind spot in our society. Yes, we should look into why people are crossing, what can be done to prevent it, but also, how can we help people who are dying in the desert?? What can't more resources be devoted to studying and finding solutions to these problems, rather than discussions about building physical walls and alienating our neighbors physically and politically? I just can't believe that letting people die in the desert is our best solution to illegal immigration.

Apr. 06 2018 10:33 AM

What is the point of this hand-wringing and what is the alternative proposition advocated? No borders? A unified America including Mexico and Central America? Hard pass.

How about some discussion of personal responsibility on the part of people setting off into the desert? Not everything is our fault. This is not our fault and it's reality that people will try to illegally cross borders due to various incentives. The major unstated premise here is that we as a nation should not enforce our borders...just have some courage and say it.

Apr. 06 2018 09:20 AM

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