Border deaths marked on Dia de los Muertos

In El Paso, Texas, about 30 activists marked Day of the Dead on Nov. 1 by hanging 450 white wooden crosses on the border fence along the American Canal, where at least 15 people drowned this year trying to enter the US. Some crosses held the names of dead migrants, while others were blank to represent those who have not been identified. The event was organized by the Border Network for Human Rights, an El Paso-based grassroots group that keeps track of migrant deaths. According to the Border Network, 371 migrants died this year on the US-Mexico border, including 25 in El Paso and New Mexico. Border Patrol officials in El Paso recorded 27 deaths in this sector.

Later in the evening on Nov. 1, community members gathered at the Chamizal National Memorial for a candlelight vigil in the memory of migrants who died. “This is the day that we mourn our dead and demand a change in the policies that caused those deaths,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network. Garcia pointed out that migrant deaths increased after 1993, when new border policies forced migrants away from urban areas into more remote and riskier crossing areas. The crosses were scheduled to stay up until Nov. 3. (El Paso Times, Nov. 1)

The Human Rights Coalition, an Arizona immigrant rights group, documented 237 deaths along the Arizona-Mexico border between Oct. 1, 2006 and Sept. 30, 2007. The figures exceed the previous fiscal year, when 205 bodies were recovered. The totals represent the number of deaths reported by coroners in Pima, Yuma and Cochise counties over the federal fiscal year. At least 51 of the migrants who died in Arizona were women. The Human Rights Coalition compiled the data with the help of Arizona authorities, multiple foreign consulates and the Binational Migration Institute. The Border Patrol reported 186 migrant deaths in Arizona through August of this year. (, Oct. 22)

From Immigration News Briefs, Nov. 4

See our last posts on the immigration crackdown, and the struggle for the border.

  1. Immigration News Briefs editor Jane Guskin to speak in San Diego
    From The Politics of Immigration, Nov. 7:

    Author Takes Immigration Dialogues to San Diego County
    Jane Guskin, the New York City-based co-author of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, is traveling to San Diego County for a series of dialogues that north county activists have organized on this hot-button issue for Nov. 8-10.

    Guskin and co-author David Wilson facilitated a number of dialogue sessions in New York City and its suburbs in September. In early October, Guskin brought the dialogues to the Midwest, with events in Madison, Wisconsin; Chicago; St. Louis; and Indianapolis and Bloomington, Indiana. In late October, Wilson visited Northern California and facilitated a public dialogue in Oakland.

    Guskin was invited to San Diego County by local activists who are finding The Politics of Immigration to be a much-needed resource in what appears to be an increasingly anti-immigrant climate.

    “I believe immigration is a complex and important issue which defies lazy thinking or simplistic solutions,” says Vista resident Dick Eiden, an attorney who practiced some immigration law in the 1970s and 1980s and says he still struggles for better understanding. “The public discussion needs more facts and fewer slogans,” he says. Eiden has sold more than 50 copies of The Politics of Immigration locally since late August.

    “The lack of accurate information and documentation about immigration has crippled the debate and fostered an environment of fear, mistrust and intimidation,” said Mark R. Day, a filmmaker and journalist based in Vista. “This is why we welcome Jane Guskin and her book, The Politics of Immigration, to San Diego County. Let there be light.” Day has won two Emmy awards for productions focused on human trafficking; his website is

    “The purpose of these dialogues is to open up a discussion, so we can start considering what drives immigration, and what impact it has on our lives, without shying away from any of those complexities,” Guskin explains. “I encourage anyone to attend who wants to speak and listen to others without trying to dominate or disrupt the conversation,” said Guskin. “If you are open to hearing other points of view as you share your own, you’re certainly welcome.”

    To set up dialogue events or media interviews, contact Guskin and Wilson at

    Events with Jane Guskin in San Diego County, November 8-10, 2007:

    Thursday November 8, 2007, at 5pm
    Social Justice Seminar
    UC San Diego John Muir College
    1103 Muir Biology Building
    9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093
    Sponsored by Human and Earth Rights Organization (HERO)
    Free and open to the public
    For details:

    Thursday November 8, 2007, at 7pm
    Cal State University San Marcos
    Academic Hall 102, San Marcos, CA

    Sponsored by Student Life & Leadership Cross Cultural Center,
    National Latino Research Center (NLRC) & CSUSM MEChA
    Free and open to all CSUSM students, staff, faculty and invited guests For details:

    Friday, November 9, 2007, 7pm program (social hour with refreshments at 6pm)
    Palomar Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship
    1600 Buena Vista Drive, Vista, CA 92081 (in the Shadowridge section of Vista) Free and open to the public

    Saturday, November 10, 2007, at 11am
    Escondido Public Library
    Turrentine Room
    239 South Kalmia, Escondido, CA 92025
    Sponsored by North County Forum, Free and open to the public