KVOA News 4 Tucson, Nathan O’Neal, January 17, 2013
A humanitarian group that provides aid and supplies to illegal migrants crossing the desert claims they caught a Border Patrol agent stealing blankets and food from one of their drop sites in Southern Arizona via a hidden camera.
The group “No More Deaths” regularly puts out water, food and blankets for migrants crossing the border. They posted a video taken Jan. 8 from a hidden camera near Arivaca, about 12 miles north of the international border.
“We decided to set up these hidden cameras in an attempt to reveal the identity to reveal it was Border Patrol,” said Hannah Hafter, a volunteer with the group.
Hafter said they used a wildlife camera that was tripped twice when the agent moved in and out of view. The group claims the agent pictured in the video walked off with the food and blankets meant for traveling migrants.
“Which is no small thing because all of us have been experiencing how terrible the night temperatures are, and the hypothermia that can be caused by the cold is just as dangerous as the heat in the summer,” Hafter said.
However, this isn’t the first run-in this group has had with Border Patrol.
“We’re told that agents are not supposed to be taking our supplies, they’re not supposed to be destroying our supplies,” Hafter said, adding: “We have a video from earlier in the year where agents are drop-kicking jugs of water which is treating it as a joke when people’s lives are at stake.”
Customs and Border Protection sent News 4 Tucson a statement on the posted video. It reads in part: “We appreciate the efforts of those who report concerns and continue our dialogue with humanitarian groups as we work toward greater border security and the health and welfare of those who attempt to enter our country illegally.”
The statement continues: “We are currently gathering the facts related to the posted video as there are any number of possible and appropriate reasons for the agent’s actions in this video.”
However, that doesn’t convince Hafter and other “No More Deaths” volunteers who are seeking answers and accountability.
“We’re hearing from Border Patrol that they’re not doing this, but at the same time this is what we’re documenting when we do put the camera out there,” Hafter said.