No human being is illegal

No human being is illegal.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler /

You give your son a hug and big kiss on the cheek.  You know this may be the last time you ever see him.  He is going to try to make it to America despite all the odds.  That means crossing stretches of barren desert, fences, border patrol guards with guns, and even wild animals.

Many call these kinds of people “illegals.”  But how can a person be illegal?  Only their actions can.  A more fitting term may be “undocumented” because they do not come with paperwork that allows them to legally work in the United States.

If caught, many of these travelers end up in jail and then get deported back to Mexico or Central America.  However, some do not fare so well.  Some don’t make it through alive.

Thousands have simply disappeared as if they never existed.  Nobody notifies their family because they don’t know whether they are alive or dead.  They are just gone.  And nobody is making more of a fuss over this is because they are “just illegals.”  Some say they deserve it because they were trying to cross illegally.

Of course, that kind of thinking is atrocious.  There is nothing that can dehumanize these people.  They are, or were, human beings just like anyone else.  They were just trying to create a better life for themselves or their families.

Pima County, Arizona has the deadliest stretch of the United States-Mexico border.  Since 2011, the remains of over 2,200 migrants have been recovered in Arizona near the border.

People used to think that migrants would consider it too risky to cross over wide open expanses of desert.  However, most were not deterred at all and they died in high numbers.

Robin Reineke is the director of the Missing Migrant Project.  Her group acts to find and identify those who went missing in that area.  They use anything they can including dental records and tattoos to try to identify the victims.

Sadly, sometimes all that is left is bones.  However, Pima County has been able to identify about 66 percent of bodies recovered along their border.

What is the Missing Migrant Project’s suggestion?  They offer the idea of having migrants pay the U.S. government whatever fee they were paying a “mule” to carry them across the border and offering, in exchange, a legal work document.

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