Lori Baker still remembers the first time she identified an immigrant’s remains, said Molly Hennessy-Fiske in the Los Angeles Times. “I cried and cried over that case,” she says. Based at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, the forensic anthropologist had offered to help identify the bodies of the growing number of dead migrants found along the U.S.-Mexico border. Some bones had been found near a voter registration card in Pima County, Ariz. The card was used to track down a family in the Yucatán region of Mexico whose DNA matched that of the victim: Rosa Cano Dominguez, a 32-year-old mother of two who’d been left by smugglers to die after spraining her ankle. “I wasn’t sure I could keep doing this, because it disturbed me so much,’’ Baker says “We’re supposed to be detached doing this work, and I’m not.” But she saw that her work helped grieving relatives, so she created Reuniting Families—a program that gathers relatives’ DNA and compares it with unidentified remains. Even today, the human toll “hurts my soul,” says Baker. “I’ve had families who call, still looking after 25 years.’’ When remains turn out not to be their loved ones, they feel relief. “But then they call back a few days later and ask, ‘What now?’”
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.
Sign up to our 10 Things You Need to Know Today newsletter
A free daily digest of the biggest news stories of the day - and the best features from our website
10 things you need to know today: December 2, 2023
Daily Briefing Death toll climbs in Gaza as airstrikes intensify, George Santos expelled from the House of Representatives, and more
By Justin Klawans, The Week US Published
5 hilarious cartoons about the George Santos expulsion vote
Cartoons Artists take on Santa versus Santos, his X account, and more
By The Week US Published
Places that are already seeing a boost in tourism due to climate change
The Explainer Warmer temperatures are moving travelers north
By Devika Rao, The Week US Published