Alvaro Enciso is one of the most notable artists in the American Southwest. Among his other work, in recent years he has placed crosses to mark the deaths of more than 900 migrants who have died in the Sonoran desert south of Tucson, each marked with a red dot, like the dot marking the thousands of deaths of immigrants on the “death maps” published by Humane Borders. This is his new report from the borderlands, yesterday.
these five crosses, not far apart from each other, are for migrants whose remains were recovered in the last couple of years. none of them have been identified. this past tuesday, while planting 2 of these crosses, we found a mandible, two leg bones, a rib, some vertebrae, and other bones-all human. on a prior trip to this location we found other human skeletal remains.
the skeletal remains we just found were collected by law enforcement authorities and taken to the pima county office of the medical examiner. there, forensic medical doctors, and anthropologists, will determine if these bones are from one or more individuals, and also if they are part of the five other set of remains found in the same area, or new cases.
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meanwhile the families of these unknown individuals are still looking for answers as to what happened to them? and they are still hoping that one day their missing beloved will contact them in some way. but that phone call, that letter, that knock on the door, will never happen in these particular cases. this is what i call the constant presence of absence.