TUCSON, Arizona – On November 14th, No More Deaths released Separate and Deadly: Segregation of 911 Emergency Services in the Arizona Borderlands. The report is the latest installment of Disappeared, a four-part series that examines Border Patrol’s role in the crisis of mass death and disappearance in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
Separate and Deadly analyzes the Pima County Sheriff’s Department’s emergency response system and the segregation of 911 calls in the border region. The findings of the report shed light on a discriminatory system in which vastly different responses are allocated to callers based on their perceived citizenship status. For people migrating through the region, their distress calls to 911 are customarily transferred to Border Patrol – an agency that has already demonstrated a deadly negligence when it comes to emergency response and rescue.
From the report:
“In March 2018, a man contacted 911 eleven times over the course of ten hours. He was lost and alone. As the hours passed, his condition clearly deteriorated, and his voice began to fade. It appeared that Border Patrol was not actively searching for him… Pima County dispatchers continued to transfer his call to Border Patrol every time he called… The county’s own Search and Rescue team was never notified, and the county never activated a search for him. Eventually the man stopped calling. The outcome of his case is unknown.”
The No More Deaths team reviewed thousands of 911 calls and took testimony from humanitarian aid volunteers, in addition to other relevant data sources. In 99% of the calls where the caller was presumed to be undocumented, no intake or assessment was conducted, in 68% of the calls the dispatcher lacked fluency in Spanish to be able to communicate effectively and 50% of the callers were given no notice before being transferred to Border Patrol.
“Not only is call segregation based on presumed immigration status unlawful, the consequences of such practices are deadly,” says Parker Deighan, one of the report’s contributors. “The findings of this report raise serious questions about the county’s complicity in the ongoing crisis of death and disappearance.”
In 2023 alone, the remains of 175 people have been found in Arizona. Countless more remain disappeared.