Are those map tags pointing you to a nearby ATM? Pizza Shop? No, those map tags are of a recent app to indicate every documented death of a migrant worker along the border of Pima County, Arizona since 2001. Early this May, the online mapping app was released allowing users download the tool to search hundreds known migrant workers deaths.
The app will be a new tool that will save lives along the US and Mexican border in the area, according to Pima County’s medical examiner office and Humane Borders, a human rights group based in Tucson. The release of the app, which is a part of the Arizona OpenGIS initiative for Deceased Migrants, consists of information complied since 2001 by the medical examiner’s office will help identified some of the unclaimed bodies of migrant workers and reunite them with their families.
According to a researcher at the University of Georgia, and the app’s creator, John Chamblee describes how medical examiners, “get these calls from people, ‘My loved one disappeared three months ago, five months ago…or they’ll get a call like, ‘The smuggler called me,’ and they left their loved one at this point and they try to find out about them,” and with the creation of his custom map all the callers have to do is search through hundreds of other dead migrants.
There has been a recent rise in the number of deaths along the border.
In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley the number of migrant workers deaths has risen from a reported 52 in 2011 to 129 in 2012. The large increase has also been connected to the recent enforcement in immigration. Sociologist Douglas Massey of Princeton University believes the deaths are connected to the rise in manpower along certain borders forcing migrant workers to look for new alternatives to cross from Mexico into the United States.
Pima County’s attempt to help reconnect the lost soul’s body to loved ones is noble, and Humane Borders hope the app will be used to track and help reduce the fatalities that occur along the border. Pima County is the only real county gathering its information and granting the public access to them. However, other counties feel the program can be misused.
While other counties along the border are ignoring the bodies of the migrant workers by not taking part in Pima’s endeavors, they simple feel effort may not be accepted amongst the community.
“Some of them think politically don’t think it’s a good idea to create this,” Kat Rodriguez, a program director at Coalición Derechos Humanos Arizona, said regarding some officials of counties not partaking in the program. “Suddenly the narrative would be, ‘Oh my god, look how much money is being spent on these illegals.’”
With the immigration reform still in its early stage, it appears the death of migrant works may only continue to rise. With immigration enforcement rising, and the neverending Drug wars, migrant workers are at a greater risk. Hopefully, a solution will eventually come so that the app may no longer receive data entries.