Once, Mexico sent a military plane to recover hundreds of urns
Calls keep coming. A farmer in Oaxaca was killed in Florida. A construction worker in Zacatecas, Los Angeles. A housekeeper in Puebla, New York.
For more than a year, the Mexican Consulate in the United States has classified the number of victims of the coronavirus to the American immigrant labor force. Thousands of Mexicans in the United States have died of COVID-19. Most of them are undocumented immigrants who are considered “important workers” by the state labor department. Through a measure, the death rate in this community soared by nearly 70%.
Even after their deaths, their immigration status still haunts them. That’s where the Mexican diplomats come in: their job is to repatriate the bodies of those killed by the pandemic.
This task eventually consumed most of the government’s energy. Mexico once sent a military plane to retrieve hundreds of ballot boxes.
But most of the time, it was a quiet and sad exercise, different from other exercises used by diplomats in the country. For example, a young consular officer in Florida boarded a flight to Mexico City and carried a few pieces as carry-on baggage. A senior ambassador to California found himself trying to help bury one of his employees.
And, sometimes, Mexican families are tired of waiting for their government to take action and leave things in their own hands. Some people started a fundraising campaign to pay for the $4,000 that is usually required to repatriate dead bodies. Others smuggle coffins across borders themselves.
Although millions of Americans are now vaccinated, undocumented immigrants are still struggling to apply for their own vaccines. In some cases, this is because the pharmacy requires an ID to make an appointment. In other countries, this is because immigrants fear that going to the vaccination site may lead to deportation. As a result, they still have an excessively high rate of death from covid-19, and the Mexican consulate continues to answer the phone.