Update from Nogales

One of many tables of families being served a breakfast at the Comedor.

The scene has changed dramatically at the Comedor (the dining room) run by the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), (a project of the Catholic Church in Nogales, Sonora) where every day volunteers go to help migrants reconnect with families, receive medical attention, and for those who have been deported, to get checks cashed. 

No More Deaths volunteers go in teams from Tucson to offer the migrants the chance to make a free phone call to families in the US, Central America, Mexico, or other far-reaching places.  No More Deaths covers the cost of the phone service.  Many basic medical needs are met by our volunteer medical team using donated supplies. 

The number of calls made has held steady over the past few years, but this has now changed as well.  In December 2018, 248 calls were made compared to 339 recorded for December 2017.   We see this as the result of more people carrying cell phones.     

The number of people being served meals at the Comedor has been much higher in 2019, with approximately 400-500 meals being served per day during February.   We are seeing both an increase in the number of families and the number of people from Guatemala.    More migrants, rather than escaping poverty, are fleeing violence, and are most often coming as family units seeking asylum.  The second week of February, a group of 97 Honduran families arrived. It’s shocking to see mothers with babies in their arms without strollers or anything else to help carry them. Many have travelled on the top of freight trains with small children in hand and endured unimaginable problems while passing through Mexico. 

No More Deaths’ volunteers also offer a check cashing service to enable previously detained and deported migrants a way to get their money back.  This is needed, because upon release, the private prisons issue checks that can’t be cashed at banks in Mexico or a credit card that is hard to use and deletes money from the balance every time someone tries to use it.   Sometimes money is wired to the person or a family member after they arrive back home.  The border is a dangerous area to have cash, and the deported migrants are often targets.

The Kino staff are an amazing and adaptable group of religious workers who have an unbelievable capacity for love, patience, and kindness. It’s a pleasure for the NMD volunteers to work with them and other allied organizations.  If anyone, especially medically trained people who speak some Spanish, would like to get on the volunteer team,  please contact Nancy Myers at nancyfleckmyers@gmail.com

OP ED: “I’m being prosecuted for trying to save the lives of three migrants”

The below op ed, published earlier this month by CNN , was written by Parker Deighan, the abuse documentation coordinator for No More Deaths and one of the #Cabeza9 defendants.

February 1, 2019 – In a little over a month, I will go on trial for driving a vehicle in the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge, a vast wilderness area in Arizona that shares a border with Mexico. At the time of my offense, I was a volunteer for the humanitarian aid organization No More Deaths, searching for three migrants who were lost without water. I was responding to a call from a family member who contacted our Search and Rescue hotline, after being turned away from law enforcement. Though I was never able to reach those migrants, I have since learned that two were detained and one was never found.

Continue reading OP ED: “I’m being prosecuted for trying to save the lives of three migrants”

Trials Begin January 15th

On Tuesday, January 15th at 8:30 AM, No More Deaths will hold a pre-trial press conference outside the Deconcini Federal Courthouse, 400 W Congress.  We ask supporters to join us then and for the rest of week in the courtroom as the trial unfolds.  Please tell us you are coming so we can be in touch if needs or updates arise.


DAILY TRIAL UPDATES


January 15th, 2019, TUCSON, AZ – Four No More Deaths volunteers facing federal misdemeanor charges begin trial today for their humanitarian aid work along the southwest border.  The aid workers are being prosecuted for their efforts to place life-saving food and water on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a vast and remote area south of Ajo, Arizona where 91 border crossers are known to have died since 2014 and countless more have gone missing.

“Members of our organization are being criminally prosecuted for placing water in areas where hundreds of people have died of thirst.” says Paige Corich-Kleim, a humanitarian aid volunteer with No More Deaths. “Anybody who has visited the refuge understands the harshness of the terrain and the need for a humanitarian response.”

The summer of 2017 was one of the deadliest on record in Arizona, resulting in a total of 32 known migrant deaths on the Refuge.  No More Deaths volunteers maintained a consistent presence in the area, putting out humanitarian aid supplies and responding to search and rescue calls for missing migrants.  That winter, nine volunteers, in places as disparate as New Orleans, Minneapolis and Seattle, received knocks on their door from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.  Charges include operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area, abandonment of property, and entering a wildlife refuge without a permit. One of the defendants is Ajo resident Dr. Scott Warren, who is also charged with felony harboring and conspiracy related to humanitarian aid work.  Dr. Warren’s felony trial is scheduled for May of this year.

The trial begins as the country goes into the fourth week of government shutdown, the longest in history.  “The president is holding the country hostage over his demand for a border wall and claiming the humanitarian aid crisis as justification for his actions,” says Max Granger, another longtime volunteer with the group.  “We believe a humanitarian crisis warrants a humanitarian response.  A border wall will do nothing to alleviate the crisis of death and disappearance along the US-Mexico border.  The protection of the right to give, and to receive, humanitarian aid is essential as long as the government maintains border policies that funnel migration into the most remote parts of the desert.”

Trials are expected to last through the week, with a verdict being issued sometime after trial ends.  Dr. Warren’s misdemeanor trial is scheduled for February and the final round of Cabeza defendants will go to trial in March.

What is required to stand for human rights

Dear friends of No More Deaths,

Because you have followed and supported No More Deaths, you already know the challenges that humanitarian-aid workers face in providing basic human needs like food and water to those who in desperation travel through our borderlands. We hear your voices, which encourage us to carry on because it is the right thing to do in spite of all our government does to discourage this work, including targeting our volunteers with a litany of criminal charges. Continue reading What is required to stand for human rights