There have been 71 reported deaths on the US-Mexican border in Arizona since October 1, 2011 (1). This isn’t the full story though. Tucson hit the national news again earlier this year when the Tucson Unified School District voted to ban Mexican American Studies and had the books removed while classes were in session (2). Now John Huppenthal, a state official involved in the ban is reported to be targeting the department of Mexican-American studies at the university and other college-level programs (3).
I believe these sorts of attacks on Mexican culture, in conjunction with xenophobic legislation such as SB 1070 has created the sort of environment where the April 8 shooting deaths of two Latino immigrants in a wash that is part of the migrants’ trail near Eloy are a natural extension of government actions (4), especially since this occurred just after what has been reported to be the largest series of immigration raids ever (5).
I was just able to spend four days volunteering for No More Deaths on the border near Arivaca. I spent the bulk of the first day helping move a medical tent, which was a great deal harder than I would have guessed! There is a major need for people with medical expertise to be in the desert to treat people who are abandoned, lost or somehow else separated from the group they are walking with.
After the tent in camp was mostly moved, I was able to help with the first of several food and water drops I went on over the next few days on the migrants’ trail. We also went on a couple hikes where we carried smaller amounts of liquids, food and first aid supplies to maintain a presence on the trail. The application for volunteers to participate in the summer program is supposed to be released May 1, and I highly recommend people interested to check http://www.nomoredeaths.org for more information.
For those who can’t come to Arizona and/or afford to make donations, please consider organizing a film screening or book reading circle in your community. Last year after volunteering for No More Deaths, I helped host a series of film screenings on immigration ranging from videos on the youtube about No More Deaths to Made in LA, The Invisible Mexicans of Deer Canyon and Dying to Live.
Suggested reading: Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario, The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea and Basta! Land and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas Third Edition by George Collier with Elizabeth Lowery Quaratiello which deals extensively with how the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has effected the Mexican economy and immigration.
Written for POCO!