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May 5, 2017

Report: Even in death, indigenous border crossers marginalized

  • Agency
  • Genetics/Genomics – Of the hundreds of people who die trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico each year, those with indigenous backgrounds are less likely to be identified than those with more European ancestry, a new analysis reveals.

The research, reported in the journal American Anthropologist, focused on DNA from individuals found dead in the Arizona desert and transported to the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner in Tucson, where efforts are made to identify the individuals and return them to living relatives.

The researchers looked at highly variable regions of DNA, called short tandem repeats, that are traditionally used in forensics to identify individuals, "much like a fingerprint," said University of Illinois anthropology professor Cris Hughes, who led the new analysis.