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Two Migrant Brothers Found Dead, Hugging in the Arizona Desert After Crossing the Border

Two brothers from Oaxaca were found dead in the Arizona desert after being abandoned by the coyote they had paid to accompany them over the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Noticias Telemundo. The two brothers — named Édgar Mendoza Rodríguez, 37, and Carlos Enrique Mendoza Santiago, 23 — were hugging in the sweltering heat when they died, and were discovered in a heartbreaking embrace.

Édgar leaves behind four children, while his brother Carlos leaves behind two, with one more on the way. The Mendoza brothers’ family members reportedly tried to stop them from going, but both men were determined to make it to the United States and build a better life for their families.

“I asked him not to leave, to always be with us, but he left,” said Ingrid, one of the elder Mendoza’s four children, reports Milenio. Before leaving, the brothers consulted with their father, 55-year-old Facundo Mendoza Nolasco, who ultimately gave his sons his blessing after they explained why they were so adamant about crossing the border.

The Mendoza brothers were determined to do right by their families, especially after seeing how many people in their community had successfully crossed over and made great strides in the United States. “As they knew and saw that other people were leaving and they were doing well, then they decided to leave,” their father said.

After parting ways with their families, the brothers took buses to reach Sonoyta, close to the well-known border town of Sonora, where many crossings take place on a regular basis. After linking with the coyote, the three men began their journey across. At some point along the way, when the men were still in Arizona, Enrique became severely dehydrated and was no longer able to continue.

Rather than leave his brother behind, Édgar decided to stay and keep him comfortable, leading to both of their deaths as the coyote continued on without them. At home in Oaxaca, the families waited anxiously for a call which eventually came from the coyote himself, who wanted to inform their survivors that the brothers decided to stay in the desert and had most likely died.

According to Then24, the coyote called a week after he had abandoned the two men and spoke frankly to Facundo, with whom he was the main point of contact. “That’s the law of life in the desert,” he said. “If you stay you stay.” Facundo’s worst fears were confirmed two months later, when a consulate in Yuma called Facundo to inform him that his sons had died.

“The consulate told me that, as a good couple of brothers, they found them hugging each other,” Facundo said of his conversation with the Yuma office. Authorities confirmed that, although the bodies were already in a state of decomposition, certain physical features had been preserved, and the two men’s identification were discovered on their persons, making it easy to contact next of kin.

Now, Facundo is petitioning for a temporary visa to retrieve the bodies of his two sons and return them to Oaxaca for a proper burial. “I ask the president, the governor or the dependency to listen to me, to give me a visa so I can go look for my children. I need to go after them and bury them in their homeland,” said Facundo, according to the Milenio report.

Tragically, the coyote they ultimately hired to shepherd the two men across the border came highly recommended from a family member, who said that the coyote had “never let people down.” For a fee of $14,000, the coyote agreed to lead the two men across, but the family had only put a down payment of $3,000 total. The remaining balance was to be paid upon their arrival in Denver, Colorado.

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