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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: Is this against the law in these parts?

GEENA JACKSON: Humanitarian aid is never a crime. It is a humanitarian imperative to try and ease the death and suffering in this area. And regardless of government agencies trying to prosecute humanitarian aid workers, we maintain that humanitarian aid is never a crime.

AMY GOODMAN: As you watch this, Scott, what your colleagues are doing, from No More Deaths, do you get to describe this in the courtroom?

SCOTT WARREN: Yeah, I'm just noticing the energy of this moment, and I think maybe because all of us are here, and hearing here my friends describe the messages that they're writing on the bottles. It's so routine for us that we do this, but even I forget like how important and like how beautiful and really kind of sacred it is for us. And it's an honor for us to be able to be out here and do this work, I think.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Scott Warren with No More Deaths. It was his first time in more than a year accompanying a water drop in the desert. He faces a November retrial for helping migrants last year.


AMY GOODMAN: "Bad Crazy Sun" by The Sidewinders, a Tucson band, recorded in 1989. This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman. We're continuing our special broadcast, "Death and Resistance on the U.S.-Mexico Border." The bodies and bones of more than 3,000 people, nearly all migrants, have been found since 2001 in the treacherous Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Recent changes to asylum proceedings under the Trump administration have diverted more migrants to deadly portions of the U.S.-Mexico border.

We turn now to the Tucson-based artist Alvaro Enciso. Every week, he drives and hikes to the exact locations in the desert where migrant remains have been found, and places a cross there to honor their lives and make visible the deaths so often ignored. The Colombia-born artist has built and installed over 900 crosses throughout the desert as part of his ongoing project called Where Dreams Die. We recently spoke to him at Altar Valley in the desert, where four immigrants were killed in a car accident as they fled from Border Patrol agents. We spoke as we walked.

ALVARO ENCISO: This area is called the Altar Valley, because we have the Baboquivari Mountains in that direction, and we have the Sierrita Mountains in this direction. The migrants use this area here to go from south to north, from Mexico, which is about 40 miles this way. And they use the electric poles as a navigational point. They're not far from the paved road, in case they get into they don't feel well, and they come out to the road and hope that someone will pick them up and whether the Border Patrol, you know. At one point you know that you cannot walk anymore, and that's it. So this is one of those it's not as heavily used as much anymore, because too many Border Patrol and too many helicopters and too many things here.

As we came in here, you saw some tires on the ground, and the Border Patrol uses those tires to drag them to clear the road. So, they come back, and if they see any tracks, then they know that migrants have come through here, and so they start looking for them. But now the migrants carry these booties made out of pieces of rug, pieces of carpet, and they clear.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you're saying the Border Patrol smooths these sandy paths so they can see their footprints?


AMY GOODMAN: And they wear and so, some of the migrants wear kind of carpet?

ALVARO ENCISO: Yeah, just about all of the migrants wear these booties that have carpet under, on the bottom, you know, the sole.

AMY GOODMAN: So you can't see the footprint.

ALVARO ENCISO: So, then, the last guy sort of sweeps the a sweeper, pretty much.

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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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