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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/2/19

Death and Resistance on the U.S.-Mexico Border: A Democracy Now! Special

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SCOTT WARREN: We're headed out into Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and we're going to do a big loop and check on some water drop locations that we maintain out in the desert.

AMY GOODMAN: And water drops are?

SCOTT WARREN: Water drops are the places where we leave food and water and other humanitarian supplies for people who are walking through the desert and would otherwise be without those things.

AMY GOODMAN: Scott, can you describe what's happening? We see a Border Patrol van up ahead. What is it?

SCOTT WARREN: Oh, yeah. We just... there is some Border Patrol activity in this area, which is not unusual. This is definitely one of the areas of a lot of enforcement and one of the areas that we do our humanitarian aid work in. So, we're entering into the Growler Valley, which is this big valley coming up here, and that's also a very active area, so...

PAIGE CORICH-KLEIM: Well, let's drop some water here.

AMY GOODMAN: Paige, can you tell us what you're doing?

PAIGE CORICH-KLEIM: Yeah. So, there's a rescue beacon right behind us, and so we're just going to leave a couple gallons there. So, if anybody sees the beacon and walks toward it, they'll find some water.

AMY GOODMAN: What's a rescue beacon?

PAIGE CORICH-KLEIM: So, a rescue beacon are these towers that are made by Border Patrol. And they have a button on them, where if somebody goes up and pushes it, Border Patrol will come and, what they call, rescue, but what is actually detaining them. But the beacons don't have water at them, so when we drive by them, we leave some, so that if people see them, they'll be able to get some water.

AMY GOODMAN: So you're leaving water and?

PAIGE CORICH-KLEIM: And just a couple cans of beans, so there's some food here, as well. Rescue beacons are something that Border Patrol, in all of the trials, have really talked about as their efforts to save lives. But they actually don't have any data showing how effective they are. And we've actually the one time that they released data, it showed how many times the buttons were pushed and how many rescues they resulted in. And in the Yuma sector, rescue beacons were activated a couple thousand times, and it resulted in, I think, four rescues.

This one, you can't really tell, but some of them, you can see there used to be a red cross on them, like on the sticker, and the Red Cross actually told Border Patrol that they had to remove that, because Border Patrol is not a humanitarian aid group that's associated with the Red Cross. So, it used to have that kind of international symbol of help, and it was removed.

SCOTT WARREN: We're in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and we're approaching the boundary with the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. And right on that boundary line between the park and the refuge is what they call Boundary Camp, which is a Border Patrol forward operating base. So, it's attached to the Ajo Border Patrol station, and they use this as a base in the wilderness here, essentially, to conduct patrols in this Growler Valley area.

AMY GOODMAN: We've stopped here, Scott. Why? Why aren't we going right into the refuge?

SCOTT WARREN: Well, I can't set foot into the refuge right now. And as you mentioned, Amy, that's because of the misdemeanor charges that I face that are related to the provision of humanitarian aid on the refuge. And then I also face felony charges for the, what the government calls, harboring of migrants. So, we're here on the boundary. We'll continue south through Organ Pipe and check on some water drop locations in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. But we won't actually go onto the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

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Democracy Now!  is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on (more...)
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