If you value human life, demand a change in our border policies.

Nearly 150 people have died along Arizona’s border already this year. We’ll surpass last year’s numbers.

The annual border death count is as much a part of Arizona’s summer as the achingly dry song of the cicadas.

This should cause moral outrage. But it doesn’t. It’s barely noticed beyond humanitarian groups.

This lack of general and sustained anger about the death toll is an outrage in itself. We are, after all, a nation that claims to care about human rights.

But this country’s border-enforcement policies — coupled with the continuing lure of jobs and the drive to reunite with family members — are undeniably lethal.

Efforts to reform those policies in Congress are being declared dead or on life support, depending on who is assessing the odds. There are so many reasons to pass a comprehensive solution similar to what emerged in the Senate. Among those is the consequence of inaction.

Dr. Gregory Hess, chief of the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, says the death count this calendar year is 148 people as of Sept. 23. That’s 23 more dead people than this time last year.

Since the beginning of 2001, Hess’ office has received more than 2,200 bodies of people who tried and failed to cross Arizona’s southern deserts. His office gets bodies from all border counties except Yuma County

The Border Patrol, which keeps track by fiscal year, reports 171 deaths statewide from Oct. 1, 2012, to Aug. 31. That’s down 10 from the same time last fiscal year.

Immigration reform is not about politics. It is about people.

It is about men, women and children who share our humanity. Their fragile hopes are like anybody else’s. So is their tender love for families left behind or waiting somewhere on this side of the line.

Their deaths are bitter testimony to the failure of our current border policies.

— Arizona Republic, Sept. 23

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