ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan has launched an exhibit as part of a global project called “Hostile Terrain ’94” that aims to humanize a crisis that’s often overlooked in partisan battles over immigration policies. The display on a campus hallway consists of a giant map of Arizona filled with 3,000 toe tags filled out by hundreds of volunteers and representing those who died in the Sonoran Desert as they crossed from Mexico into the U.S. It’s preparation for 94 similar installations going up worldwide next year. The actual death count could be much higher because some people’s remains almost surely just weren’t found. Anthropologist Jason De León, who leads the project, says his goal is to call attention to what he believes is an inhumane 1994 U.S. immigration policy that made trying to cross the unforgiving desert the best or only option for many would-be migrants.
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