Poverty Persecutes Undocumented People Dying on the Border

The lack of economic resources is the death toll of many immigrants who die trying to enter the United States illegally, and facing the cost of repatriating their remains becomes a challenge for family and activists.

The death of Gloria López and Raúl Quiroz, two young Oaxacans who tried to cross the border between Mexico and the United States, reflect the difficulties faced by many to repatriate the corpses of their loved ones.

Odilis Romero, a spokeswoman for the Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations (FIOB), told Efe that for two weeks they have been trying to raise funds to “cover the costs of repatriating undocumented workers, but the task is increasingly difficult.”

“We had to resort to the community to try to cover the costs of transportation, but we have not been able to reach the necessary sum. Every time the resources are scarcer,” Romero lamented.

López, aged 15, and Quiroz, 20, had been married a few months before, and in May they decided to leave Coicoyán de las Flores, Oaxaca, to California, where they sought to find a better future for their one- who had stayed in Mexico.

In his dangerous adventure, Quiroz barely carried 1,200 Mexican pesos ($ 67).

“This story is always repeated, spend what little they have to get here, their families are indebted and everything for a better future, which in this case never came,” said Romero.

Lopez’s brothers work in the countryside and do not have the funds to cover the expenses of $ 7,000 that it costs to repatriate the bodies to Oaxaca.

Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE), the Mexican government has a budget to help repatriate Mexicans who die on US soil.

Between 2010 and 2016, more than 33,000 bodies of Mexicans were repatriated, an average of 4,700 a year, and according to SRE data, the entity spent in 2015 about 5 million dollars in the transport of mortal remains.

Romero explained that they sought help from the Mexican consular authorities and that they gave them “500 dollars in cash”, forcing them to ask for “community collaboration so they can send them back home.”

But the plans of the young Mexicans were quite different. They intended to meet with the brothers of Lopez, who reside in Fresno and Santa Barbara, and begin to work in the field.

In her first attempt to enter the United States last June, the young couple were detained and deported to Tijuana, where they remained until August 10, when they risked crossing again.

This time, the Oaxacans traveled in a van that, according to authorities, was linked to a murder.

A report by the Border Patrol (CBP) states that a mobile unit of this agency ordered the driver of the truck to stop, but he decided to flee.

During the chase on the San Diego freeway, the vehicle crashed into a fence and fell into a ravine. In the accident Lopez, Quiroz and the driver were killed, while a third passenger was seriously injured
Lizbeth Mateo, an Oaxacan lawyer and activist in Los Angeles, explained that the families of the victims are mixtecos indigenous who barely speak Spanish. “It’s very difficult for them to face all this.”

To help them, Romero established an account on the “Go fund me” internet donation platform to help collect the $ 7,000 necessary for the repatriation of the bodies. Donations did not reach 2,000.

The bodies of the young people were transferred from the San Diego morgue to Los Angeles, where they will receive the last goodbye this Saturday and then be sent to Oaxaca.

Although the debt will remain pending for relatives and activists, at least they see a positive aspect to this tragic reality.

“At least we can guarantee that they will return without debt and rest in peace, although there is still their daughter,” Romero said.


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