SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — On New Year’s Day, President Donald Trump signed a humanitarian bill that will provide funding to help identify the remains of migrants who died while trying to enter the United States.
It’s believed that every year, hundreds of people fall into distress in remote areas of the border region and die as a result of dehydration or exposure.
Often, when remains are found, it is hard to identify them and local agencies don’t have the resources or money for the forensic-identification process.
The bill expands funding to process unidentified human remains and help resolve missing persons’ cases so that families can find closure, according to Vicki Guabeca with the Southern Border Communities Coalition.
“The Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act is an important first step to expanding public safety and upholding human rights in our region, and we thank all the lawmakers who worked hard to get it passed.” said Guabeca. “Missing migrants are not simply statistics, they’re real people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
The bill originated in the Senate (S. 2174) and was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California; Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; and Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico.
It passed the Senate by unanimous consent in mid-November 2020.
The House companion bill (H.R. 8772) was introduced by U.S> Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, and Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas.
Over 100 forensic scientists, subject-matter experts, border-region humanitarian aid groups, human rights, immigrants’ rights and faith-based groups signed a letter expressing support for the bill.
Part of the funding also authorizes money for the installation of 170 new self-powering, 9-1-1 cellular relay rescue beacons in remote areas of the border so people can call for emergency assistance.
“Many of the victims often carried cellphones but could not get a signal to dial for help, these beacons will help save lives,” said Guabeca.