Death on the Border
Politicians and pundits who tout simplistic enforcement-only solutions to our nation’s complex immigration challenges have some chilling new information to contemplate as the grim body count on the border continues to rise.
The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that while “some expected tougher immigration policies to deter people from trying to cross the desert” 170 bodies have been found in Tucson (Pima County) already this year — a number on pace to break a 2007 record. In July alone, 59 people were found dead. The death toll has soared at such a staggering pace that a refrigerated trailer truck has been added to serve as a makeshift morgue at the coroner’s office.
As this story vividly documents, enforcement-only approaches to immigration drive desperate immigrants to take more dangerous routes through the Arizona desert. Migrants don’t cross borders because it’s easy. Most risk death, and will continue to do so, because they are desperate for work and a better life for their family.
This shameful development again reinforces the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform that brings immigrants out of the shadows, helps keep families together and cracks down on unscrupulous employers who hire and exploit immigrant labor. This isn’t “amnesty” as many opponents insist. It’s a practical and humane response to an issue that will not disappear with tough talk, cowboy justice or higher fences.
A nation that is serious about safeguarding its core values and highest ideals can’t afford to ignore the mounting deaths of men, women and children at its borders. It’s time for an honest conversation about immigration that acknowledges both the cruelty and ineffectiveness that characterizes the failed status quo. Politicians who demagogue this issue and spread ugly myths about immigrants may score cheap political points on the campaign trail, but they abdicate their sacred trust as public officials. History will not judge them kindly.