Flint has joined more than 130 cities worldwide in displaying an art exhibit, underscoring the perils, suffering, and deaths faced by immigrants trying to cross into the United States through the Sonoran Desert.

The exhibit, Hostile Terrain 94, will be on display starting Friday, Nov. 12, at the Flint Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Nov. 27.

“We are excited to bring this exhibit, which has been shared with communities around the world, to Flint. It is a powerful visual that puts names to many of the people who have lost their lives crossing the US border,” said Daniel Birchok, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UM-Flint and project coordinator for Hostile Terrain 94, in a press release.

The exhibit was brought to Flint in a collaboration between the University of Michigan-Flint, Mott Community College, and other community partners like the Latinx Technology and Community Center and the International Center of Greater Flint. 

Hostile Terrain 94 is part of the larger Undocumented Migration Project which aims to use archeological and anthropological study methods to better understand the physical and political conditions faced by the thousands of people who have tried crossing the U.S/Mexico border. 

Aurora Sauceda, a health navigator and coordinator for Michigan United and a Latinx Flint resident, has heard many stories about the dangers of crossing the border into the U.S. during her years as an advocate for her community.

“I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to understand the reasons for why someone would try to cross, even if it is life-threatening. I guess until they open their heart and open their ears, and see with their eyes what some immigrants go through, the risks they take just to live a better life and to give a better life to their families,” Sauceda said. 

She continued by saying that an exhibit like Hostile Terrain 94 is necessary to get people to understand that despite being so far away from the border, the suffering and death some are willing to go through to live in the U.S is real and that for many who cross the border, making it to the other side successful is a matter of life and death. 

“I would hope people see an exhibit like this and they think to themselves, ‘Hey if that was me, how would I feel?’”

Hostile Terrain 94 is a global effort to bring attention to the dangers of crossing the border and can also be found on display this month in countries like Brazil, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

During the exhibit, there will be 3,200 toe tags displayed to represent the number of known deaths due to immigration attempts across the Sonoran Desert from 2000 through 2020.  The tags will include detailed information on the deceased, including names, age, cause of death, and location of the body upon being found.

Visitors will be able to fill out toe tags similar to ones found in morgues on people who died trying to make the journey across the Sonoran Desert.

Santiago Ochoa

Santiago Ochoa is Flint Beat's Latinx Community reporter. He is always looking to write about anything Flint or Latinx. He especially enjoys investigative reporting and human-interest stories. A communications...

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