Within the Tucson Peace Center a group of about 10-15 people from all over the United States congregated on Jan.13. We came together because of a call from the organization called No More Deaths to create art to express our discontent with Border Patrol and the policies in place that perpetuate the death of migrants in our borderlands. We came together to address the growing humanitarian crisis at the border and the Border Patrol’s complacency and active role in perpetuating the humanitarian crisis.
No More Deaths, in summary, is a humanitarian organization based in Southern Arizona. Their goal is to end death and suffering in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands through civil initiative. It is a group of people consciously working openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights.
‘Even though border patrol agents have free reign in the refuge, activists are denied permission to use the administrative roads.’
In the past several months, No More Deaths has started to work on canvassing and campaigning for an upcoming trial for four of their volunteers. These volunteers were arrested for providing humanitarian aid in the Cabeza Prieta national wildlife refuge where 32 human remains were found just last year. They were charged with a variety of offences, including driving in a wilderness area, entering a wildlife refuge without a permit and abandoning property. These volunteers were basically charged with littering when they were leaving humanitarian aid.
Even though Border Patrol agents have free reign in the refuge, activists are denied permission to use the administrative roads. Since 2017, leaving humanitarian aid in this refuge has been banned. Border Patrol has been responsible for the widespread interference with essential humanitarian efforts through unwritten rules to tamper and destroy humanitarian efforts to preserve migrant life in the desert. These charges come during a nationwide crackdown on immigrant rights organizers, and in a time where the Trump administration seeks to end DACA, increase deportations and build the wall — potentially causing even more people to take the dangerous journey through the southern Arizona deserts.
The banners we were making were for the four volunteers that were to be tried during a four day trial starting on Jan. 15, 2019 at the United States District Court in Tucson, Arizona.
Emily Rodden is a third-year student majoring in anthropology. ER861398@wcupa.edu