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Sanctuary: a documentary by 99% Invisible

99% Invisibile

In July 1980, a group of Salvadoran migrants crossed the border between Mexico and Arizona. They walked over a remote mountain range and halfway across a wide desert valley in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

There were more than two dozen of them—people who had left behind lives and jobs to come to the United States. The migrants had hired guides to lead them on their journey through one of the most desolate areas of the Sonoran desert. But the heat proved too deadly and they hadn’t anticipated how far they would have to walk. Around a dozen of them died the first day out.

The survivors were eventually found huddled in the sparse shade of some scrub brush. They were delirious and suffering from intense dehydration and heatstroke. U.S. Border Patrol agents brought them to a hospital in Tucson. It was there that a Reverend named John Fife of Southside PresbyterianChurchfirst encountered the migrants and began to learn more about why they had crossed the border.

Listen to the Part 1and Part 2of the two-part documentary, Sanctuary from 99% Invisible.

Roman Mars is host and producer of KALW’s 99% Invisible, a short radio show about design and architecture. The 99% Invisible podcast recently peaked at #8 in the iTunes rankings for all podcasts, as well as #1 in both the Arts and Design categories. He is also the host, producer and program director of Public Radio Remix from PRX, a 24-hour, experimental public radio story stream broadcast on XM 123 and public radio stations across the country. He was a founding producer at PRX/NPR’s Snap Judgment and Senior Producer at the Third Coast International Audio Festival.