Deaths in the desert: The human rights crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border

David Androff, Kyoko Y. Tavassoli

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    47 Scopus citations


    Many would acknowledge that immigration is a major issue in the United States and that immigration reform should be a priority. However, there is little attention to the human rights crisis on the U.S.-Mexican border. As a result of tightened border security since 1994, it is estimated that over 5,000 migrants have died in the Sonoran desert. The criminalization of immigration has resulted in a human rights crisis in three areas: (1) the rise of deaths and injuries of migrants crossing the border in harsh and remote locations, (2) the use of mass hearings to prosecute apprehended migrants, and (3) abuses of migrants in immigration detention. These policies and practices have serious repercussions for the affected vulnerable population. Despite recent legislation designed to discourage undocumented immigration, such as Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, the deterrence strategy has not diminished migration - it has only increased the suffering and deaths of migrants. Humanitarian groups are working to prevent more deaths but also have been targeted for criminalization. The profession's ethics compel social workers to work with humanitarian organizations to prevent more deaths and to advocate for humane immigration reform.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)165-173
    Number of pages9
    JournalSocial Work (United States)
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 2012


    • border policy
    • ethics and values
    • human rights
    • immigration
    • migrants

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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