Human Rights and Undocumented Migration Along the Mexican-U.S. Border


The statistics are clear: Between 1990 and 2002, there have been more than 3000 dead and missing unauthorized immigrants and 15,000,000 apprehensions and deportations along the Mexican-U.S. border. The border strategy of U.S. authorities has forced undocumented immigrants to pay higher prices to "coyote guides," providing enormous financial incentives for smuggling. The immediate effect has been the creation of sophisticated criminal organizations that exploit this business. The worst effect of U.S. border policy, however, is that undocumented immigrants now face a border fraught with dangers of death, serious bodily injury, robbery, swindling, molestation, and other assaults. This is a complex and problematic reality.

Therefore, the U.S.-Mexican border is a "danger line" for unauthorized immigrants. In 2002, the U.S. Border Patrol discovered 323 deceased immigrants. American and Mexican researchers, nongovernment organizations, and journalists have declared that the U.S. government is responsible for these deaths. They have also called this tragedy a human rights violation. In this Article, cultural anthropologist Guillermo Alonso Meneses explores the problem of immigrant deaths and analyzes whether there is evidence of human rights violations in the United States' border strategy or in the passive Mexican authorities' attitude. This Article argues that the Mexican and U.S. governments have equal responsibility for the problem of immigrant deaths. Human rights violations exist, but these are isolated events. There is no clear evidence to charge Mexican or U.S. authorities with systematic human rights violations. Nevertheless, we need to stop the deaths of unauthorized immigrants through rapid and humane solutions.

About the Author

Cultural Anthropologist, Departamento de Estudios de Poblacion, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), Tijuana, Baja California, Autopista Tijuana-Ensenada, km. 18, San Antonio del Mar

By uclalaw