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Forensic Anthropologists Identify Undocumented Immigrants
Forensic anthropologists identify deceased undocumented immigrants by studying personal effects and bodily remains.
Forensic anthropologist Tracy Van Deest holds a skeleton while taking an inventory of bones from a deceased immigrant at the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner on Dec. 9, in Tucson, Ariz.
Forensic anthropologists attempt to identify the deceased by studying personal effects and bodily remains. Most are from undocumented immigrants, many of whom died of dehydration while crossing illegally into the U.S. from Mexico.
Human remains in body bags lie in the refrigerated morgue at the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner. The center currently has 90 bodies and on average receives 176 per year. Most of the deceased are found by ranchers and Border Patrol agents. Identified remains are repatriated, along with personal items, to their home countries, and the others will be cremated.