Today, along with La Coalición de Derechos Humanos, we released the third installment of our report series, Disappeared: How US Border Enforcement Agencies are Fueling a Missing Person’s Crisis. The report, Left to Die: Border Patrol, Search and Rescue, and the Crisis of Disappearance finds that Border Patrol systematically ignores and mishandles search and rescue emergencies in the borderlands.
Border Patrol has inserted itself as the sole responder for undocumented migrants in need of rescue. When someone crossing the desert calls 911, county governments transfer the calls to Border Patrol.
By looking at emergency calls received by the Coalición de Derechos Humanos 24-hour Missing Migrant Crisis Line, we find that Border Patrol did not conduct a confirmed search or rescue mobilization in 63% of cases. This includes 40% of cases where Border Patrol directly refused to take any measures in response to a life-or-death emergency. When Border Patrol did respond, the searches were severely diminished in time and resources when compared to searches for US citizens.
Check out this short video of the findings:
Arivaca, AZ: After
sunset on October 5th, US Border Patrol entered No More Deaths’
humanitarian aid station, Byrd Camp with a federal warrant, for a second
nighttime raid in two months. Volunteers were held for 3 hours while 12
people who were receiving medical care, food, water, and shelter from
the 100+ degree heat were detained.
In a massive show of armed force, Border Patrol, along with the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), descended on the camp with an armored tank, ATVS, a helicopter, and many marked and unmarked vehicles. Agents armed with assault rifles chased and terrorized those that were receiving care, all while the helicopter hovered low above them kicking up dust and debris, making it nearly impossible to see. Border patrol smashed windows, broke doors, and destroyed essential camp infrastructure as well as supplies.This was after heavily surveilling the camp and patrolling its perimeter, creating an antagonistic and distressing environment for those receiving care, since late Saturday night on the 3rd.
the previous raid on July 31st, Border Patrol has refused on multiple
occasions to meet with volunteers to discuss previous shared agreements
that upheld the right to provide humanitarian aid. The sector chief sent
No More Deaths representatives a formal letter asserting this refusal.
Border Patrol’s continual surveillance and harassment of Byrd Camp keeps patients from receiving essential care. This criminalization of the humanitarian aid and medical care we provide is only a furtherance of the agency’s deadly policies. Border Patrol detains people in unsafe and deadly facilities where medical neglect is rampant and human rights abuses are well documented.
Corich Kleim, a volunteer present for the raid yesterday said this
about the previous raid in late July “Once again, Border Patrol is
concentrating their resources on interfering with humanitarian aid
during the most deadly time of year for people crossing the border,
People are dying in the desert because of border enforcement policy, and
now Border Patrol wants to prevent people from accessing life-saving
assistance. We view this as a clear violation of international
Since 2004, Byrd Camp has been a location where people crossing through the harsh Sonoran Desert can find food, water, medical care, and respite. Byrd Camp has always operated openly and transparently and offered humanitarian aid according to Red Cross protocols. No More Deaths affirms the right of all people, regardless of nationality, to give and receive humanitarian aid. Our volunteers are specifically trained to respect autonomy when providing care as is standard practice in the medical field and only call 911 and Border Patrol with patient consent. We will continue to be a presence in the desert as long as Border Patrol policies create a crisis of death and disappearance.
Arivaca, AZ: Around sunset on July 31st, US Border Patrol raided No More Deaths’ humanitarian aid station, Byrd Camp, detaining over thirty people who were receiving medical care, food, water, and shelter from the 100+ degree heat. In a massive show of force, Border Patrol, along with BORTAC, descended on the camp with an armored vehicle, three ATVS, two helicopters, and an estimated 24 marked and unmarked vehicles.
Agents refused to show a warrant upon entry, and were not wearing masks. For two hours, in darkness, they detained and chased people receiving care while a Border Patrol cameraman filmed the scene. The day before, agents had entered the property without a warrant and detained one person receiving care. Border Patrol then set up 24-hour surveillance around the perimeter, deterring anyone else from entering the camp to seek help.
Last night’s military style raid on the aid station is a clear example of Border Patrol’s deadly pattern of interfering with humanitarian aid. Many No More Deaths volunteers work as EMTs, paramedics, nurses, and doctors. Volunteers are trained to respect the autonomy of individuals receiving care — as is standard practice in the medical field, they only call 911 and Border Patrol with patient consent. All persons at camp had been medically evaluated, were stable, and were receiving continuous care.
The initial detention and surveillance of Byrd Camp was set up just 24 hours after No More Deaths released emails from a FOIA request revealing the role of BORTAC — the tactical unit recently mobilized against protestors throughout the United States — and the Border Patrol Union’s role in a 2017 raid of the same aid station.
Border Patrol previously raided Byrd camp in 2017, which predates Dr. Scott Warren’s arrest for providing humanitarian aid to two individuals. Warren was arrested just hours after No More Deaths released a report detailing Border Patrol’s interference with humanitarian aid, along with a video that went viral showing agents destroying water gallons. The message is clear: expose Border Patrol abuses, face retaliation
“Yesterday, Border Patrol harmed thirty people in irreparable ways. On a daily basis those who migrate through the Arizona desert are targeted, terrorized, detained, and deported.” Said Dr. Scott Warren, “Last night we witnessed these tactics deployed against people who sought medical care and relief at our Byrd Camp aid station. As always when humanitarian aid in the borderlands is targeted, those who seek care are the ones that face the brunt of these violent escalations.”now
To you, and everyone in the streets, organizing within their communities and building a world where Black lives not only matter, but thrive, we thank you and stand alongside you.
It’s midsummer in Arizona, and many of us are in the desert leaving water, responding to missing persons calls and providing care to people crossing during the heat, navigating a humanitarian crisis mid-pandemic. For aid workers, it’s not uncommon to meet people in the desert with a familiar story: Profiled by police, arrested, handed over to ICE, deported and now trying to get home to their families and loved ones.
As the uprisings have increased in the United States, we’ve also seen Customs and Border Protection drones circle Minneapolis, Border Patrol deployed to Washington D.C. and armed CBP agents posing in front of community shrines in San Diego. ICE and Border Patrol have long extended the militarization of the border into cities and the interior of the country and through these actions are only reaffirming their racist and xenophobic agendas.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Riah Milton, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Dion Johnson are only the most recent examples of police brutality, actions of an institution rooted in white supremacy. What we recognize as modern day policing in the U.S. was born from a need to prevent uprisings amongst slaves, and to preserve Black people as property.
This legacy of white supremacy lives on in the prison system, which is a clear reimagination and continuation of slavery, incarcerating Black people at a rate five times that of white people. Immigration detention and deportation are an extension of the same racist policing and court systems, often occupying the same buildings and being run by the same for-profit corporations.
Migrant justice and Black liberation are inextricably linked.
Immigration is a Black issue. The stories of Black migrants are often erased or minimized, as are the struggles of Black people everywhere. Routine discrimination against the undocumented community is increased even more by anti-Blackness, making Black immigrants far more likely to be funneled into the deportation machine.
In the most recent installment of our Disappeared report series, we demanded that Border Patrol be defunded and dismantled, with reparations paid to family members of all those killed or disappeared by U.S. border enforcement policy. This recommendation was built on the understanding that no reform could end Border Patrol violence and extrajudicial killings. In making these demands we took guidance from centuries of Black abolitionist thought and organizing.
Black feminist, activist and professor Angela Davis summed up the current political moment in a recent interview: “What we are seeing now are new demands: demands to demilitarize the police, demands to defund the police, demands to dismantle the police and envision different modes of public safety. We’re asked now to consider how we might imagine justice in the future. This is a very exciting moment. I don’t know if we have ever experienced this kind of global challenge to racism and the consequences of slavery and colonialism.”
No More Deaths/ No Más Muertes affirms our call to defund ICE and CBP and joins the call to defund the police nationwide.
When we defund and demilitarize the police and pay reparations to the communities they have terrorized for centuries, we may finally begin to construct a society which is not based on brutality and murder.
So we invite you, as friends and supporters of migrants, immigrants and racial justice to give generously to Black immigration organizations at this pivotal time in history. Donations to organizations such as Movement for Black Lives or to Black Trans groups will save lives.
In solidarity and gratitude,
No More Deaths/ No Más Muertes community