Left Behind

Watch the book trailer at http://www.bit.ly/I5VnfU

2010 was a year of record deaths for illegal migrants entering the U.S. via Arizona’s Sonoran Desert—230 in all.

It’s impossible to know how many migrants survive the days-long journey, led by high-priced guides, with temperatures soaring up to 130 degrees in the summer months. But every year since 2001 no less than 150 mummified and decomposed bodies have been discovered in remote areas of the desert, eventually taken to the Pima County Forensic Science Center which faces the herculean task of analyzing and storing their remains, archiving their possessions—and hopefully—determining their identities.

In the fall of 2011, I traveled to Pima County, where I photographed the day-to-day operations of the facility, documenting the receiving area, autopsy room, and archive of border crossers’ personal effects. I also travelled to Green Valley, AZ, photographing belongings left on the desert floor by migrants awaiting road-side pick up.