The Eagles of the Desert–Los Aguilas del Desierto—are a group of volunteers. They are construction workers, maids, gardeners, veterans, immigrants themselves who for the last 6 years gather monthly to comb the desert along the Mexican border in search of bodies, the bodies of those who tried to cross into the US but did not make it. Hundreds die each year in this way. 412 were found in 2017. And forensic researchers say the actual number may be higher. It is hard to know why they did not make it, the extreme heat, drowning in irrigation canals, an accident, murder… often it is unknown. The Eagles’ work brings relief and hopefully answers to anguished family members who do not know what happened. Sometimes they cannot identify the body, sometimes they find someone they know, and there are times when the person they find is a relative or someone close to them. The Eagles use GPS, satellite images, even information they can obtain from border agents and smugglers.
As I kept reading about this amazing group of volunteers, I kept remembering those who accuse immigrants who thus cross the border of coming in to commit crimes. Can anyone truly believe that someone would willingly undergo the hardships of crossing the desert and risk his or her life in order to commit a crime? Regardless of what some may believe, the work of those volunteers needs to be hailed.