Death By Policy: Crisis in the Arizona Desert

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For over a year, Futuro Investigates dug into how the Border Patrol’s decades-long “prevention through deterrence” policies have purposely created a deadly funnel, pushing migrants attempting to cross from Mexico to the U.S. into the deadliest terrain in the country, including the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.

Links to all stories below.


The work of Futuro Investigates is made possible by The W.K.Kellogg Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, The Tow Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Michelle Mercer and Bruce Golden, and Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Published on: December 2, 2022

Border, Immigration

How U.S. policies contributed to a crisis in the Arizona Desert

As the death toll across the border continues to rise, volunteer organizations go out into the most dangerous areas to search for missing people. Futuro Investigates examine why volunteers, lacking financial resources, continue to take on this dangerous work while Border Patrol’s multi-billion budget continues to increase.

Published on: December 1, 2022

Border, Immigration

Podcast: Death By Policy: Crisis in the Arizona Desert

Listen to our podcast and follow along by reading the transcription.

Published on: December 1, 2022

Reporter’s Notebook

A weekend search mission in the Arizona Desert: A reporter’s notebook

Pulitzer Prize-winning senior producer and investigative reporter Julieta Martinelli spent two days in the desert while investigating deaths of migrants in Arizona, along with a group of search and rescue volunteers called The Blue Armadillos. In this reporter’s notebook, she reflects on her experience while reporting for Futuro Investigates & Latino USA’s newest investigation, “Death by Policy: Crisis In The Arizona Desert.”

Published on: December 1, 2022


Reporting an old story: Why covering the migrant crisis in the desert matters today

For over three decades, Pulitzer-award winning journalist Maria Hinojosa has been covering immigration policies in the U.S. In her first piece for Futuro Investigates, she reflects about why the crisis of migrants crossing the desert might be a decades-old story, but should matter to all of us right now.

Published on: December 1, 2022


Our methodology note

While reporting this story we relied on open records requests, historic documents, public databases, international treaties and legislative records. We also immersed ourselves in books, films and other media. Here is just some of what we consumed.

Published on: December 1, 2022

Border, Immigration

Three days stranded: How Border Patrol failed to rescue a lost migrant in the desert 

An update to Death By Policy: Crisis in a Arizona Desert

Published on: April 6, 2023