Jesus Dominguez, 15 years old, was disappointed when his mother decided to go to the US. Jesus, like many his age, did not want to leave his friends. But because he was the man of the house, he couldn't let his mother and sister walk alone, so he went.
When she lost consciousness, Jesus struck out alone to try to find emergency help. Three days later, Border Patrol agents found him lost, wandering and disoriented in the desert. Although Jesus was dehydrated, in shock, suffering from heat exhaustion and terrified about his mother's status, the agents gave him a little water and then left him at the federal line in Nogales, a practice known as "expedited removal." Once there, Jesus placed a frantic call to his grandfather for help.
In another part of the Sonoran desert, Daniel Strauss and Shanti Sellz, both 23, woke up in their camp on the dark desert floor and prepared to face the dawn of a blistering July day.
Strauss and Sellz spent the entire day hiking in 115 degree heat through dry washes and trails in search of people who are sick, injured, lost, or those who are dying of hunger, thirst or heat exposure -- people like Jesus and his mom. When the teams find them, they call the emergency medical provider for instructions on how to proceed for treatment.
This particular Saturday, Strauss and Sellz found a group of 3 migrants who were suffering from drinking stagnant cow tank water. Migrants who are literally dying of thirst often drink from cow ponds as they get desperate. Ingesting water contaminated with bacteria and cow dung causes severe vomiting and a diarrhea that can be fatal. The on-call doctor instructed Strauss and Sellz to take the vomiting migrant to St. Mary's Emergency Room. They were arrested en route by the Border Patrol, charged with transport of illegal aliens, and now face a 15-year sentence in federal prison.
For the millions in extreme poverty, emigration is often the only avenue to basic survival. Since the application process for a US work visa is long, complex and prohibitively expensive, they walk across.
But the human cost is high. From October 1, 2004 through September 30th, 2005, 282 immigrants are known to have died coming across just the Arizona sector of the Mexico-US border. Some bodies were found within 4 miles of the Arizona line. They had walked from Honduras or Chiapas (700-1000 miles) to the border and died before they were able to cross. 29 additional deaths only appear in the Mexican Government's records –for a total of 311 deaths at the Arizona border this past year alone. The 311 number does not include the bodies that will never be found or the people who died along the migratory route from Central America.
How did they die? Here are some of the postmortems: hyperthermia, dehydration and exposure to the elements lead the list; motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma complete it.
Your heart pumps harder and harder to get fluid and oxygen to your organs. Empty vessels within you collapse. Your sweat runs out....Your temperature redlines ---you hit 105,106, 108 degrees. Your body panics and dilated all blood capillaries near the surface, hoping to flood your skin with blood to cool it off. You blush. Your eyes turn red: blood vessels burst, and later, the tissue of the whites literally cooks until it goes pink, then a well-done crimson. Your skin gets terribly sensitive. It hurts, it burns. Your nerves flame. Your blood heats under your skin. Clothing feels like sandpaper......
These are only snippets from the article. The rest is both heartwrenching and infuriating. I cannot more strongly recommend reading the article in its entirety. You will never be able to look at the issue of immigration reform dispassionately again after reading this unbelievable piece of writing.