Piles of empty water jugs, backpacks and discarded personal hygiene products were everywhere. A pair of men's combat boots, placed neatly beneath a mesquite tree; an unfinished game of solitaire, the cards face-down, as if the player expected to return at any minute. Nearby, a cheap candle was wrapped with an image of Christ. From the refuse, one could surmise the travelers were religious, eager to make a good impression and, for the most part, naïve about the life ahead.
In a recent presentation to the Arizona-Mexico Commission plenary session in Phoenix, Mexican Ambassador Carlos de Icaza said that Arizona's Sonoran Desert is an area of major concern, and pointed out that 50 percent of the total migratory flow from Mexico to the United States comes through this area. Icaza said that more than 400 deaths occurred in this region between 2002 and mid-June 2004.
Most people think all migrants cross the border to look for work--that this is the only motivation driving migrants to such a dangerous extreme. But a UA doctoral candidate (who did not want to be named), who teaches English to new arrivals by never asking questions, tells a story about a transsexual male who had been beaten up outside a disco in Mexico City. Unable to face the shame, he made the trek through Organ Pipe National Forest in full drag. He says he was treated kindly by the crossers and never wants to look back.
Like these interviews, the things left behind can provide clues to who these people crossing into the United States really are.
Meanwhile, like a metronome, the media keeps track of the body count:
No. 141: Death of a Michoacan man, Friday
No. 145: Decomposing Body of a Woman Found
No. 186: Skeletal remains found on Barry Goldwater Range
No. 191: Pair of Batman pajamas found.