KTT Public Statement

To the No More Deaths community of supporters, clients of Keep Tucson Together, and the community of Tucson:

Effective July 1st, 2022, Keep Tucson Together (KTT), the free legal clinic headed by attorney Margo Cowan that offers advice and assistance for immigration cases, will no longer be part of No More Deaths (NMD). The separation is supported by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson (UUCT) which provides NMD with fiscal sponsorship. In this statement, the name NMD and the term “we” refers to the majority of NMD that will continue to fulfill our mission, and does not include KTT or those NMD volunteers who opposed the separation. We are sharing details of the separation out of a commitment to transparency and accountability to all affected and the community.

Last summer, multiple families assisted by KTT came to NMD and showed evidence that their cases had been mismanaged. We assessed the information that was shared with us and found there to be a troubling pattern of misleading information, lack of communication and disrespectful behavior. The stories shared by the families are devastating and we honor their bravery in coming forward. After several requests for information and exhaustive efforts to hold KTT accountable internally, we have decided to no longer be associated with services provided by KTT.

When the families came forward, members of KTT and several long-term NMD volunteers refused to believe any wrongdoing had occurred. The repeated gaslighting and condescension were offensive and traumatizing for the affected families. The decision to dis-associate from KTT was further validated by persistent disrespectful treatments of NMD staff and volunteers during this process by Margo Cowan, other members of KTT and some individuals in NMD. These interactions brought to the forefront deep-rooted white supremacy in NMD that has been present since its founding and which we must continue to confront.

We acknowledge the essential services that KTT has offered the undocumented people in Tucson. We hope that as an organization independent from NMD, KTT will change their practices to prioritize client communication, informed consent, and a responsible caseload. 

We are unable to speak on the subject of the future operations of KTT. To inquire about their continued services please contact KTT by phone at (520) 623-4084 or in person at the KTT office at 730 S Osborne Ave in Tucson. 

If you are assisted by KTT and you have had problems with the way KTT has managed your case, please contact us by phone or email: 

help.nomoredeaths@gmail.com    (480) 442-6772

Left To Die: Call To Action

A new report from No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos, Left to Die: Border Patrol, Search and Rescue and the Crisis of Disappearance, finds that Border Patrol systematically ignores and mishandles the search and rescue emergencies of migrants, who are funneled into dangerous and remote terrain by the agency’s policy and practices. The report also finds that Border Patrol obstructs family and community search efforts, leaving thousands to die.

Every year, Congress gives more than $25 billion dollars to ICE and CBP to profile, jail, deport and terrorize immigrants. Their records of abuse and consistent rejection of oversight and accountability demonstrate that these enforcement agencies are beyond reform.

To end the crisis of death and disappearance in the borderlands we must decriminalize migration, demilitarize the border and defund Customs and Border Protection, the agency that causes people to become missing and leaves them to die.

Take Action today by supporting community-based search and rescue efforts & joining the #DefundHate Campaign to demand Congress defund Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

What you can do:

  1. Donate to community-based search and rescue groups in the borderlands
  2. Demand that Congress defund Customs and Border Protection with the #DefundHate Campaign! 
    1. Sign the petition bit.ly/DefundHatePetition
    2. Contact your elected officials with the tools below:
      1. Find your representative
      2. Find your senator

Sample Script:

“Hello, my name is [_______] and I’m a constituent of [congressional member’s name]. I thought you would be interested in a new report that analyzes Border Patrol’s search and rescue response system. The report is called Left to Die: Border Patrol, Search and Rescue, and the Crisis of Disappearance.

The report provides overwhelming evidence that Border Patrol’s emergency response system is plagued with systemic and deadly discrimination, routinely ignoring and mishandling life-threatening emergencies and fueling a crisis of death and disappearance. It’s clear that the agency is unfit to be involved in search and rescue efforts.

I’m calling on [Member of Congress] to oppose funding increases for border and immigration enforcement. Instead of using public funds to criminalize migration and militarize the border, we demand that you exhibit leadership and call for drastic cuts in funding for ICE and CBP. This includes cutting funds for “smart border” technologies that only serve to further militarize an already hyper-militarized border, endangering the lives of migrants.”

Facing Death in Detention

Due to the threats of COVID-19, since February, the No More Deaths Keep Tucson Together Legal Clinic has focused its efforts on preparing humanitarian parole requests and motions for bonds for more than 50 of our clients detained at La Palma, Eloy & Florence, AZ ICE detention facilities. Court dates are set and then cancelled, re-set and then cancelled. Meanwhile, precautions against the spread of the pandemic in cramped detention centers are abysmal. There is no soap in sinks, no access to gloves, and detained women and men just receive two face masks each – only after signing waivers of liability for the masks. Under these conditions, it is no surprise that more people are becoming infected with COVID-19. As of this writing, ICE acknowledges 69 known “positive” cases of COVID-19 at the La Palma facility alone.

Recently, at an La Palma detention center in Eloy, detainees blocked the doors to their “pod” with tables and chairs, demanding masks, gloves, hand soap and testing. In response, the officers from CoreCivic – the for-profit company that operates many detention centers – broke through and shot them with rubber bullets and sprayed them with tear gas. As this violence demonstrates, detained men and women are not safe in ICE custody. No More Deaths, along with Amnesty International and others, have called for the release of all ICE detainees during this pandemic, and we have been working hard to secure the release of these individuals.

On May 1st, our legal team was able to secure four bond hearings; three of our brothers were granted bonds and one was continued. One of those released is an 18-year old high school senior, who has never been in detention before, and had his bond set at $9,000. Detention was horrific for this young man. Another of the three released tested positive for COVID and has been quarantining since release. As of this writing, we have been able to get nine detainees out since February and back to their families, and hope to get more out soon.

What is clear is that the government’s policy of denying all petitions for humanitarian paroles and continuing bond hearings, not providing masks, gloves, soap and testing are all purposeful and orchestrated forms of mass negligence, not just coincidental incidents of chaos. There can be no doubt that the United States is executing a policy of detention = death. The No More Deaths/ Keep Tucson Together Clinic will continue to shine the light on these deadly practices and to do everything in our power to secure freedom and life for our sisters and brothers in detention. If you are able, please consider making a generous donation to the No More Deaths Keep Tucson Together Bond Fund at bit.ly/nmdbond. We are committed to doing everything we can to leave no one behind to die alone in detention.

Article by Margo Cowan, volunteer, Keep Tucson Together