Undocumented Migration Project x Museum of Us

English  |  Español


Content Warning: Please be aware that the content of this exhibit may be difficult or disturbing for some visitors.

Content on this webpage has been largely adapted from text by the Undocumented Migration Project. To learn more about the project, click here.


In 1994, the United States Border Patrol formally implemented the immigration enforcement strategy known as “Prevention Through Deterrence.” This was a policy designed to discourage undocumented migrants from attempting to cross the U.S-Mexico border near urban ports of entry. Instead, closing off these historically frequented crossing points would funnel individuals through more remote and depopulated regions, such as the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona.

Since then, more than six million people have attempted to make the perilous journey. At least 3,200 people have died.


Hostile Terrain 94 is a participatory map installation created by the Undocumented Migration Project, a non-profit research and arts-education collective. This installation is intended to raise awareness about the realities of the U.S.–Mexico Border, focusing on the deaths that have been happening almost daily since 1994 as a direct result of the Border Patrol policy “Prevention Through Deterrence”.

In collaboration with the Museum of Us, Hostile Terrain 94 was further developed into a broader exhibit that illustrates the impacts of dehumanizing policies on human life.


About the Project:

This exhibit contains content researched and developed by:


The Undocumented Migration Project

The O’odham Anti Border Collective

California Arts Council Administrators of Color Fellow Luisa Martínez

Smithsonian Affiliates Intern Laura Rosado

and a multidisciplinary team.

Click here to meet them and learn more.



What to Expect:

  • An interactive map composed of over 3,200 handwritten, geolocated toe tags that represent migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona

  • Cultural resources and family narratives related to these migrations

  • A timeline of government policies that have produced conditions that force people to leave home and attempt to journey through hostile terrain

  • Land acknowledgement, contemporary artworks, and landscape visuals that situate us in time and space, and help us reflect on the loss


As visitors reflect on the content of the exhibit, they are asked to consider, “What connections can we see throughout history? How does a legacy of exclusion continue to this day? What really makes this terrain so hostile?”