Photo: Colibri Center for Human Rights
The Colibri Center for Human Rights was founded with the aim of ending the sorrowful cycle for many families of having a loved one missing in the Arizona desert.
“We’re a search center and we’re working on the identification of immigrants who died crossing the border, and we have the support of the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner with the Missing Migrants project,” said the director of Colibri, anthropologist Robin Reineke.
She also explained that the work of Colibri consists of comparing the information provided by the families with the remains found in the desert with the goal of identifying the bodies.
“In the conversation about immigration reform in the United States, we want the reality of the border to be understood. We’re also seeking to educate; we have families who can tell their story,” the anthropologist said.
Currently, Colibri’s database contains extensive information about some 2,000 immigrants who went missing along the California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas border with Mexico.
“We found that there is a very wide gap for the families looking for immigrants who disappeared crossing the border and there was nowhere they could call and get trustworthy information. Many call the consulates but the problem is that the information is in different places,” said Reineke.
Colibri’s Chelsea Halstead, who receives the reports from the families, said that on average they receive 70 calls per week.
The center’s vision, Halstead explained, is to help in the creation of a more compassionate border zone where the protection of life is part of the “security” dialogue.
In 2013, 169 immigrants are known to have died in the desert, of whom 95 remain unidentified.