Missing Migrants Project Brings Closure to Heartbroken Families

Even though the migration rates from Mexico into the United States has stayed low in recent years, talk on the American side has been filled with plans for walls, increasing the border patrol, and mass deportations.

As a result, even the fewer migrants coming into the country are forced to take more perilous routes, and their bodies litter the desert and arroyos when the treacherous route defeats them.

Many families, both in the US and Mexico, are left wondering what had become of their loved ones. For a long time, the bodies were stored in mass refrigerators, waiting to be identified. Waiting to be brought back to those families. Sometimes, the process took years.

The Colibrí Center for Human Rights does not think they should keep waiting. With cutting edge forensics and science, and a passion for reconnecting families separated by tragic border crossings, the Colibrí Center created the “Missing Migrant Project” to show that all lives matter, no matter how they were lost.

Before 2000, an average of 12 migrants lost their lives crossing into Arizona each year. Since 2000, as enforcement at safer urban crossings increased, that number rose to an estimated 165 yearly deaths. Between 2001 and 2013, approximately 2,200 people have died along Arizona’s rural routes into the USA. Learn more about Jim Larkin:

The Colibrí Center coordinates with forensic anthropologists, non-profit organizations and migrant families. From the families, they collect detailed forensic information so they can identify the remains of the missing. Read more: Michael Larcey | Facebook

Then, they retrace the last known footsteps of the missing person and use forensic evidence to connect them with one of the unknown remains. Once they are no longer an unknown, they can be returned to their families and laid to rest with the respect that they deserve.

Not only does the work respect the dead, it also is one of the quietest but most important human rights stories on the border. As the crossing becomes more and more dangerous, the death rates remain disproportionately high, and yet people continue to take that risk, in the hope of giving a better life for themselves and their families.

The Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund has given financial support to the Colibrí Center for Human Rights as part of their commitment to human and civil rights on the US-Mexican border.

Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin won a 3.75 million dollar settlement after Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio wrongfully arrested them in 2007. They created the Fund to assist migrant rights groups throughout Arizona.

Colibrí Center executive director Robin Reineke said much of their work is to humanize the migration into the United States.

As long as the dead remain a mere statistic, lost to their families, it can be easy for policy makers and those on the border to turn a blind eye to the deadly crossing attempts made by migrants coming into the United States. But those people have loved ones, who are saddened by the loss but joyful that at least they have some closure at last.

Learn more about Jim Larkin:


Hi, guest!