Migrants crossing the Mexico-US border not only face the dangers posed by an unforgiving desert but also risk abuse at the hands of the US Border Patrol. During their journey through the desert, migrants risk dehydration, starvation, exhaustion, and the possibility of being threatened and robbed. Unfortunately, the dangers continue if they come in contact with the Border Patrol. In “A Culture of Cruelty,” the organization No More Deaths reveals human rights violations by the US Border Patrol including limiting or denying migrants water and food, verbal and physical abuse, and failing to provide necessary medical attention. Female migrants face additional risks, including sexual abuse, according to No More Deaths. Erika Sánchez reports, “dehumanization of immigrants is actually part of the Border Patrol’s institutional culture. Instances of misconduct are not aberrations, but common practice.” The Border Patrol denies any wrongdoing and has not been held responsible for these abuses.
Public debate on immigration tends to ignore not only the potential dangers of crossing the desert, but also the reasons for the migration of undocumented immigrants to the US. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by President Clinton and Mexican President Carlos Salinas in 1994, displaced many Mexican farmers and workers from their farms. Lack of employment resulting from NAFTA continues to motivate many to migrate to the US.
Erika L. Sánchez, “Ripped Off by Smugglers, Groped by Border Patrol: The Nightmares Women Migrants Face,” AlterNet, June 26, 2012, http://www.alternet.org/immigration/156035/ripped_off_by_smugglers,_groped_by_border_patrol%3A_the_nightmares_women_migrants_face?page=entire
No More Deaths, “A Culture of Cruelty,” September 21, 2011. http://www.nomoredeaths.org/cultureofcruelty.html
Student Researcher: Marylyn Phelps (Santa Rosa Junior College)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (Santa Rosa Junior College)