PHOENIX — A morgue in southern Arizona has been assigned to a gruesome task: identifying the bodies of hundreds of immigrants who have died attempting to enter the United States.
According to the Phoenix Business Journal, the Pima County morgue has more than 800 bodies inside a refrigerated unit that are waiting to be identified.
Pima County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Gregory Hess said most of the people whose bodies were taken to the morgue died of exposure as they attempted to cross the desert.
“The Arizona desert is a deadly trap. Migrants get easily disoriented and after long days of walking with no water or food, they succumb to unforgiving extreme temperatures. Migrants are either abandoned or tricked by human smugglers. Unfortunately the morgue is the place where their dreams end,” said CPB spokesman Jaime Ruiz.
Pima County — which is also home to Tucson — stretches hundreds of miles along the border.
But the number of those attempting to cross the desert appears to be dropping. A study released earlier this year said there were 65,000 fewer immigrants in Arizona between 2008 and 2014.
Immigration, particularly people crossing from Mexico into Arizona’s deserts, has been a primary focus of many campaigns this year, including Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s.