Dear Future President,
Out of the many issues that have risen here in the United States I have chosen one that hits home for me. Down along the southern border there are many deserts. As you know, it can get really hot during the summer and basically all year round. Many people cross these deserts in the hope of finding a better life here in the US. However, not many make it across alive and perish in those harsh desserts. Many of the bodies found along the border are collected and buried in unmarked graves, leaving their loved ones clueless about what had happened to them. These bodies are almost never really investigated. The government should be more involved in the investigation and burial of the bodies.
Dr. Lori E. Baker is an anthropologist who back in 2003 created the program Reuniting Families. Their main goal is to exhume bodies from mass graves around the southern border of the US, and identify the bodies so that loved ones can mourn their loss properly. However, this is a private program with no real support from the government. Many bodies are left in unmarked graves, or just thrown into graves with other immigrant bodies. In an interview with Erich Baker on StoryCorps.com, Dr. Lori Baker stated that, “Sometimes there are multiple individuals in one grave. We found people in trash bags.” Not only can this be a health violation, but this is also just plain disrespectful to the deceased. This is stripping them of their right for a proper burial.
A mass grave was found in Texas with many unidentified bodies of immigrants. Many times, the county that is responsible of the body, don’t follow up on the specific regulations there are for this particular situation. Investigative reporter John Carlos Frey from Texasobserver.org informs us that, “ ...Texas Health and Safety Code Title 8 requires human remains buried in a county cemetery to be placed in an impermeable container and buried at least 18 inches underground; remains in permeable containers must be at least 2 feet deep. The analysis shows that 51 of the 118 sets of human remains were not buried in coffins.” This specific case is violating the health codes that can potentially harm others in the process. There is a specific procedure for a reason, and it should be always followed. The counties should be responsible for all the bodies, whether the bodies have legal or illegal status. Just because a person is on this side of the border illegally, doesn’t change the fact that they’re still people with identities and rights.
These bodies should have a proper burial. They shouldn’t be stripped of their identity and right to a proper burial just because they tried to cross the border in an illegal way. These people once had a story that should be shared and not buried with them in their graves. These counties should be trained in dealing with this situation. They should be held responsible for all the bodies that come along the border regardless of the fact that they tried to cross illegally. The government should have more interactions with programs like Reuniting Families. I mean, would you like it if your loved one was just thrown in a trash bag and buried with strangers?
Citlaly Grade 11