The US government’s policy on illegal migration flows through the Sonoran desert is simple: its dangerous and therefore people should be deterred. That isn’t the case: in reality hundreds of migrants die each year trying to traverse the harsh environment that leads into the United States. Clearly the policy is broken, but how did it even get to this point? Radiolab’s “Border Trilogy” looks at the development of “Prevention Through Deterrence” since the late 1990s.
It tells the story of how the students from Bowie High School in El Paso, a border town which used to be a major crossing point, fought back against frequent harassment from US border patrol. The level of grief emanating from the border communities eventually led to a change in policy, driving migrants streams away from cities and into the desert.
Simultaneously, the podcast reveals the story Jason De León, an anthropologist searching for migrants’ scattered belongings in the desert. One day he finds an arm and nothing more, leaving him wondering how many people have simply atrophied out there. Lastly it tells the story of Maricela, the Ecuadorian mother who never arrived in New York.