No Mas Muertes
Last month, one of our collective members spent some time in the desert volunteering with No More Deaths. Below is a brief report on how things went.
After spending a day at camp going over how to use the maps and GPS units and getting oriented to No More Deaths policies and procedures we were ready to head out.
Our first day out on patrol we drove for an hour or so south of camp into the Coronado National Forest. We came across Border Patrol arresting 3 people. After parking the truck, we walked over and discovered a couple of plainclothes BP agents with their guns trained on the folks they were arresting while they were signing paperwork waiving their right to a deportation hearing. After giving the folks being arrested food and water and offering medical care, we stuck around until they were loaded into the G4S transport van. While we were waiting we learned that all three of them were between the ages of 15 and 17. We also overheard BP talking about having apprehended 5 more people who were part of the same group. We drove a bit down the road and came across the rest of the group. BP had handcuffed them to each other and were forcing them to hike down the mountain to the waiting van. Again, we offered them food, water, and medical care. This time, BP told us not to bother with the food because they were going to be spoiled in detention and fed Burger King. Inexplicably, they also said that there would be chicken salad for the vegetarians. They were also openly mocking the people they arrested and talking about how much fun they were having.
Later that day, we passed by one of the failed pieces of the electronic border fence. These towers have an assortment of high tech surveillance equipment designed to detect people crossing the border and alert nearby BP agents to their presence. They don’t really work and the program was recently determined to be a failure.
We also passed by some of the low tech tools that BP uses.
These are drug behind their trucks to clear all of the tracks off of the dirt roads, making it easier to tell if there has been recent foot traffic.
The next few days were significantly more sedate. Other patrols found water bottles that had been slashed by BP. Their official policy is that they have to dump the water and carry the jugs back to their trucks. In practice they often just slash them.
We did a lot of hiking, combining food and water drops with new trail exploration and mapping. These hikes also gave us plenty of time to talk about politics and get to know each other. I spent a lot of time talking about what it meant to approach this work from the perspective of solidarity instead of humanitarian aid and how my anarchist politics motivate me to offer assistance to people who are crossing the border.
This shrine marks the spot where a No More Deaths volunteer found the body of Josseline after she had been missing for a couple of weeks. She was hiking with her 10 year old brother trying to meet their mother in L.A. (she was 14) when she became to ill to continue. She told her brother to keep going, which he eventually did. After successfully reaching their mother he was able to notify people about her death. A search party went out, but to no avail. It was an unrelated volunteer out exploring who found her remains.
This story really drove home the senselessness of border policy and enforcement and was certainly a turning point in how I view the region and the work that is being done there.