Posted on February 22, 2010

A Complex Tragedy at the Border

Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2010


Frey [John Carlos Frey], a 46-year-old filmmaker, blames the U.S. government for their deaths. In all, some 6,000 people have died crossing the Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California borders with Mexico since 1994, according to human-rights groups. About 500 more die every year.

In his new documentary film, “The 800 Mile Wall,” Frey says this tragedy is the foreseeable result of a policy that sealed off urban crossing routes, driving migrants into the desert.

“Doesn’t this qualify as an atrocity to you?” Frey asked, after we’d walked to the center of the cemetery on a warm winter day last week.


On our long drive to El Centro, he had compared the migrant death toll to horrors that no one would dispute deserve that stark label: genocide in Rwanda, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

“Their deaths are systematic and they’re the results of a policy,” he said of the border crossers. “And it’s not just a few. It’s thousands.” Some people, he said, think the death toll might be as high as 20,000.