A bittersweet reunion lets three young immigrants see – and reach for – their deported mothers through a fence. Read more here in the June 11 The New York Times piece: Immigrants Reach Beyond a Legal Barrier for a Reunion
As a young man and two young women approached the border from the Arizona side, a cry rang out through the bars of the border fence. Waiting for their children in matching turquoise t-shirts on the Mexican side were their mothers, separated for years since their deportations for being illegally present in the U.S.
The six came together, reaching through the spaces between the thick metal poles, with sobs and laughter under the watchful (and not always dry) eyes of organizers, reporters, Border Patrol, and Mexican Federales last Tuesday – the culmination of days of travel and two months of planning. All three children are in President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which gives qualified applicants the ability to go to school, work and in some states get drivers licenses while they wait for a more permanent resolution to their legal status limbo. It’s a way for participants to start coming out of the shadows.
A publicly accessible website went online one week ago that provides maps and data based on the location where bodies presumed to be migrants have been recovered in southern Arizona. The Arizona OpenGIS for Deceased Migrants is “the result of ongoing partnership” between the humanitarian group Humane Borders, Inc. and the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME). And so I ended up in a southbound car with New York Times reporter Fernanda Santos and freelance photographer Joshua Lott to learn about how the database works. In the years since the first time I visited PCOME, many things have changed. Dr. Bruce Parks, whom I interviewed for Unidentified dead common on the border, retired in the summer of 2011 and Dr. Gregory Hess is now the medical examiner.
When Eddie contacted me in August 2011 neither of us knew how long the search for his brother-in-law Andy might last. After working with law enforcement, humanitarian volunteers, activists and the medical examiner, Andy’s family is still waiting for answers. Some have consulted psychics known as brujas. Some have driven the highways of Arizona stopping at local hospitals, police stations and prisons. Others have retraced Cota’s route from Tijuana to Cananea, posting flyers with his name and photographs along the way.
In February, Eddie hadn’t heard much from Robbie and Johnny about their search along the Mexican side of U.S.-Mexico border for Andy, missing since July 2011. “We haven’t heard anything from them,” Eddie said.” “I know they went to Canenea and those places but I don’t know where they are right now, we don’t know where they are now.”
Yesterday he called back to update me on their trip. “They came back empty handed with no information, they asked people and they didn’t have anything,” Eddie said. “They reported that the Mexican police, they looked around and nobody had any information.”
But he had something more pressing to discuss. “That’s some breaking news that the medical examiner called from Arizona, they have some information that they called the dentist,” Eddie said.
Eddie and his wife Monse had planned to drive down in February to look for her missing brother Andy along the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona. But, energized by the words of the psychics they consulted, her family developed other plans. “All of the sudden Monse’s family is getting excited they want to go look for them,” Eddie said at the end of January. “Every time Monse and I we want to do something they get, the family gets excited and they start some activities.”
Eddie and Monse had planned to talk to radio stations and visit shelters. “Monse and I, we meet these people so Monse can tell her story here what’s going on with the brother,” Eddie said.
Drug busts are a big part of Border Patrol coverage, and it’s a topic that agents are often happy to discuss. As part of my work for Tucson Sentinel, I’ve been logging the incidents Border Patrol reports to the press in the righthand column of my weekly border roundups. Last week’s edition featured an unusual amount of photos provided by Border Patrol of some cases that demonstrate both regular smuggling activity – and a few especially inventive attempts – that I discussed with Border Patrol Agents Jeremy Copeland and Jason Rheinfrank. Customs and Border Protection’s Yuma Air Branch spotted suspects hiding bundles of marijuana in brush along the Colorado River near the U.S.-Mexico border about 5:30 Thursday evening. They notified Border Patrol agents who arrived on scene to seize the narcotics.
If news links weren’t enough in 2012, get ready for news summaries: Missing from Mexico’s News article highlights & updates page will now be listing a series of weekly border news roundups that I’m writing for the Tucson Sentinel. They’ll also be available under the drop-down menu for news in the navigation bar above ^ . In addition Missing from Mexico’s News article highlights & updates page will still have extra articles (including topics like forensics or immigration in other countries). Plus all these links and more are regularly going into Missing from Mexico’s database of articles, radio pieces, video and official reports about border issues, forensics and reporting.
One year ago today, this blog started with its very first post. Since then the goal has been to follow Eddie’s search for his missing brother-in-law, Andy, while also expanding coverage of related border issues including missing persons and forensics cases. A lot has happened already. There’s been ups: MfM has gone social with a Twitter account and a Facebook page. The growing database of articles, radio pieces, video and official reports about border issues, forensics and reporting is constantly growing with with room for many, many more submissions.
I checked in with Eddie this weekend to see how the holidays had gone. In mid-December, he’d mentioned that he and his wife Monse were discussing coming south to look for Monse’s missing brother-in-law Andy again. They hadn’t come yet but he did have some news for me: the brujas are back. “I’m trying to go convince there’s no such thing, you know, don’t believe those people,” Eddie said. But about two weeks ago, Andy’s sister in Tijuana went to one and the information she shared with Eddie’s wife Monse has Eddie worried.
Need a place to start research or just want to learn more about border issues? Missing from Mexico’s database of articles, radio pieces, video and official reports about border issues, forensics and reporting is now over 1000 entries – and growing! Plus don’t forget – if you see something that should be in here, article submissions welcome here.