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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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AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you plan to do from here on in? I mean, you face a trial, and you face this other case, as well.

SCOTT WARREN: Yeah. Unfortunately, it's become somewhat normalized, I think, this litigation and sort of waiting for trials. And so, we'll continue to wait, and I'll do what I can. And I'm being just held and carried by so many good people and so much support, and so I'm extremely lucky to have that as I face a felony trial. I think I'm probably the most supported person that's ever been in a situation like this.

AMY GOODMAN: We're joined right now by Geena Jackson, who's with No More Deaths. Geena, talk about this terrain and what this means for migrants.

GEENA JACKSON: Sure. So, where we are in the Sonoran Desert, it's one of the hottest and driest parts of the country I mean, of the world. And because of government policies, like prevention through deterrence, migrants who are crossing the border are actually funneled into some of the deadliest parts of this terrain. Where we are right now is kind of emblematic of the mountain ranges in this area. These are the Growler Mountains over here. And then, where we're standing is actually the Growler Valley. It's really flat, and there's not much signs of any other humans or civilization. So, to get lost in this area, there's not a lot of places to go for help.

AMY GOODMAN: And where do people come over the border to get here?

GEENA JACKSON: So, it varies. A lot of people start at a town just south of Lukeville-Sonoyta crossing. Sonoyta is the town. And...


GEENA JACKSON: In Mexico, yeah, in Sonora. And some people leave from the town itself. And some people are dropped off or walk some distance outside of the town. From Sonoyta, which is pretty close to the U.S.-Mexico border, about 40 miles north, there's a checkpoint. And then there's the town of Ajo. And then, another 40 miles north, there's another checkpoint. And that's the only paved road in the area. So, migrants leaving from Sonoyta are not just walking outside of the little bit of border wall that is outside of the city center and then pushes people deeper into the desert, but then people also are walking deeper into the desert to get around the checkpoint, not just the first checkpoint but two checkpoints. The second checkpoint is about 80 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, which makes this journey over a hundred miles.

AMY GOODMAN: And tell us where we are south of right now and the significance of the kind of final mountain in the Growler range, where that is.

GEENA JACKSON: From here to where that peak is continues to be Cabeza Prieta, the national wildlife refuge. Past that peak starts the Barry M. Goldwater bombing range, which is shared by the Marines and the Air Force. And it's an active bombing range. And there's also proving grounds out there.

AMY GOODMAN: This is named after the senator, the former presidential candidate.

GEENA JACKSON: Yeah. So, past that peak in the distance, which is the last really distinctive peak that we can see from here, then begins the bombing range, which has no public access and which our humanitarian aid organizations have only gotten access to once in the many years of doing this work. And when we did get access to that area, we found many human remains, in just the couple of hours we had in the land restriction.


GEENA JACKSON: So, there, in this area, we record the human remains that are found. It's not a good indicator of the total human lives lost, but just the human remains that are found, which is limited because of our limited access to this area. This is the only public access road until all the way up there on the other side of the mountains. That is the next public access road that you're even allowed on.

We can hike in this area with permits from Cabeza Prieta. In June in July 2017, Cabeza changed their permits to add a clause that specifically said that leaving food, water, blankets, medical care specific language to our work would now be in violation of the permit. So, it's put us in a place where to do our work, we need to violate a wildlife refuge permit.

The bombing range is completely closed to public access. In one incident, another search-and-rescue group got permission to be escorted onto the range to do a search and rescue with a bombing range escort. And in just a couple of hours, they found over 10 human remains on the bombing range. If you look at the maps of recorded human remains, there are no recorded remains anywhere on the bombing range, which we know is obviously not true, because in the few hours we've had access to that land, we found a dozen. So, it can be presumed that many, many people have lost their lives on that land. And we can't recover their bodies or even like know just how great this humanitarian crisis is.

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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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