Skip to comments.County to start cremating crossers (Dead Illegals)
Posted on 05/26/2005 6:30:39 PM PDT by axes_of_weezles
No more room to bury unclaimed, unidentified bodies By Michael Marizco ARIZONA DAILY STAR
The pauper's cemetery is unremarkable. A wind blows dirt over the framed white paper that marks the grave of John Doe No. 9, dead three years. But the cemetery's boundaries, marked by strips of fresh concrete, are widening as more illegal entrants die in Southern Arizona. For Pima County, they represent a grim reality: There's no more room to bury them.
Using a state law that became effective last October, Pima County is going to begin cremating the remains of dead illegal border crossers it cannot identify, said county official Anita Royal.
"Look at how much space we have left here," said the public fiduciary, waving her arm at a narrow strip of land the county is buying on the Evergreen Mortuary grounds to accommodate more of the unidentified dead.
It's not just for dead illegal entrants; John or Jane Doe are names used to identify anybody in the county who has died but has no name to take with them to the grave.
But in Pima County, 41 of the unidentified dead last year are believed to have been illegal border crossers, said Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Parks. So far this year, 12 suspected illegal entrants have gone unidentified, despite the efforts of forensic anthropologists who use everything from the person's teeth patterns and tattoos to extensive assistance from the Mexican Consulate to identify the people.
This year, deaths are already at a record high. Fourteen illegal border crossers died across Southern Arizona since Friday, caught in the desert when temperatures topped 105 degrees.
The most recent was found about 9 p.m. Tuesday night on Federal Route 34, said Tohono O'odham Police Chief Richard Saunders.
That person's death pushed the number of dead illegal border crossers to 103 in Southern Arizona with 88 of those found in the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson sector, according to an Arizona Daily Star compilation of county medical examiner records. Last year, 221 illegal border crossers were found dead in Arizona.
The state cremation law is simple, instructing counties that they have the option to cremate unclaimed bodies, Royal said. Pima County is taking the state up on that only after exhaustive searches for a name or a family have been completed, she said.
A search like that takes nine to twelve months, she said.
"We look and look and look. We try to identify that person so that we can find loved ones," she said.
The county is achingly aware of the public-relations perception the cremations will give but says it has no choice.
The decision to cremate will have nothing to do with the person's country of origin, said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
But as it stands, the United States doesn't pay anything toward burial of remains, he said.
The Mexican consul in Tucson, Juan Calderón Jaimes, did not return phone calls seeking comment. Instead, he responded through a spokeswoman that he had not received any information about Pima County's cremation plans.
Cremation instead of burial is expected to save the county money since the cheapest burial costs $835 while the most basic cremation costs $475 at Evergreen Mortuary, which provides the service for the county, Royal said. The bigger issue is the lack of room at the nearly 100-year-old pauper's cemetery, where coffins are stored in concrete vaults and stacked one atop the other in an effort to save space in the cemetery.
Still, "we continue to increase the size of it," she said.
Eleven body parts from persons unknown have already been cremated this year, she noted.
Even as the county is planning the logistics of cremation, critics responded with frustration that the deaths had come to this.
"Now to suggest that we're simply going to cremate these people is sending a signal to Mexico that the lives of these people aren't worth as much," said Erica Dahl-Bredine, a manager for Catholic Relief Services Mexico Program in Tucson.
Cremation is an acceptable Catholic practice and is growing in Mexico, says the Rev. Ricardo Elford, a member of the Redemptorist Order, who works with immigrants in South Tucson.
But many illegal border crossers come here from southern Mexico, where the more traditional burials occur, he said.
"They would perhaps come to understand that cremation is more widely accepted than it used to be both in the church and culturally."
The sad part is that so many have died, there's no room to bury them, he said.
"It seems to me that the idea of that many people dying is a sign of what a horrible situation you're dealing with," Elford said.
The county is spending $110,000 to buy another strip of the North Oracle Road cemetery to bury more people who couldn't afford to be buried on their own. With that will come a columbarium that will store the urns of 2,000 people, Royal said.
Each urn will be stored in a small cubicle with a tag indicating what the Medical Examiner's Office knows about the body in case somebody, someday, wishes to recover the person, she said.
"It's a cheap version of the Vietnam Wall in D.C.," Royal said.
By the numbers
● There have been 103 dead illegal entrants in Arizona since Oct. 1.
● Contact reporter Michael Marizco at 573-4213 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lots of Jose and Juana Does who should have stayed home.
The border problem would be solved once and for all if they would just put Hillary scarecrows on the border. We wouldn`t even need border agents, nothing, not even barbed wire if the Hillary scarecrows were placed every 300 miles.
Please--you think the immigration problem is big now, imagine what it'd be like with effigies of the It Takes A Villager herself welcoming illegals to come and get on welfare. Sort of like the way it is now, but with the "Healthcare for all" czarina's image promising the good life.
That's a laugh. Have you ever been to Pima County? It's practically empty. Now, I can understand they may not want to purchase more land for a cemetery for the dead illegals, but it isn't because there isn't any land left in Pima County.
And what about the double crossers?
Leave 'em in the sun for the vultures. Let the remains serve as a warning for the other crimaliens.
When is the last time you were in Pima County?
Building is going on in the East,South,North and west of the county. Big housing boom with backfilling in near the city.
Most of the open land is owned by the State.
Building lots 10 miles from city center ~3 Acres start at $125,000.
See http://www.tarmls.com for the real estate listing.
Hey - I've got a better idea. Load the corpses in a truck and when you have a full load, drive it down and dump the corpses on V. Fox's front steps. Then put a bill for the diesel fuel on top of the pile.
I can't believe some of these posts. This is the way to solve a problem?!?
It's cheaper to cremate, and I bet that's what the real reason is. They've got a whole desert to buy people in. They can cremate the live illegal border crossers too, for all I care. LOL I am so sick of this issue. I just want to to go away.
No, dear, not the way at all. These threads manage to pull in people who are so fed up they've lost their compassion for individuals.
I wonder how many of them deal with death on anything more than a philosophical level...
We have a problem whose solution lies with secure borders and a reordering of our legal immigration priorities. Talk of violence against the illegals is wrong, misguided, and against JimRob's rules.
Once that's done, you start seriously enforcing the Labor Laws in this country.
Barring that, I agree with Battman.
Right. That's why I'm supporting Randy. He's intelligent, thoughtful, and has integrity.
AND he would really address the problem. He's a courteous person and has good relations with the Border Patrol, and he is a Minuteman.
Most of the open land is owned by the State.
What the state wont come accross with 10 acres to bury a state problem?
Then the state (read Butch Napolitano) would formally have to admit there is a problem and put funding to it.
You have to understand the Greenies, Feds, and Nature Conservancy have designs on all the open spaces in and around Tucson. There has to be an environmental study done to insure there are no archaeological, or endangered/protected species (other than US Citizens) on the property, as well as City, County and State zoning laws.
If you have money you can do anything.
Pima County is stuggling with growth. Pima County has to pay for the hospitals for the indigent illegals as well.
I'm reminded of the counter Minuteman poster "There are no Illegal Human Beings" Not even your enemy's fallen should just "wait for the buzzards"