Last Wednesday on Dec. 23, a few days before Christmas, while overnight temperatures dropped below freezing, Border Patrol agents surrounded Arizona’s No More Death’s humanitarian aid camp on horseback and informed volunteers that they were pursuing a warrant to raid the camp.
This would be the third raid in five months, during a year where we’ve witnessed the highest number of recovered human remains found in Arizona. Border Patrol’s policies are directly responsible for the crisis, death, and disappearance of people in the borderlands.
Border Patrol’s continual harassment of Byrd Camp prevents patients from receiving essential care. In July and October, Border Patrol conducted nighttime raids of Byrd Camp, descending on camp with armored tanks, ATVS, a helicopter, and many marked and unmarked vehicles and arresting over 50 people.
These raids are designed to drive migrants in need of lifesaving care away from the humanitarian aid station, making the desert even more deadly. The criminalization of migration and humanitarian aid has deadly consequences.
According to the Pima County Medical Examiner, 225 bodies have been recovered this year in the desert, up from 144 last year. 3,365 bodies have been recovered since 2001.
No More Deaths volunteer, Montana Thames, states, “No amount of reform can change an agency that continuously targets people seeking humanitarian aid with violent military-style force, especially on the eve of a holiday meant to celebrate hospitality towards travelers from distant lands. These actions are simply a continuation of the violent practices Border Patrol uses to terrorize those crossing the desert daily. They must be defunded.”
According to No More Death’s, on Dec. 28th, Border Patrol agents have ceased visible surveillance of No More Death’s humanitarian aid camp.
Border Patrol’s consistent harassment, threats, and raids of this humanitarian aid space is meant to drive those in need of respite and care away from much needed humanitarian aid. These inhumane practices exemplify border and immigration enforcement and tactics. People offered zero legal alternatives are funneled into dangerous terrain by U.S. Border Patrol’s policies that are designed to kill and then face surveillance and terrorization while seeking to meet their basic needs, This pattern is not new. Border Patrol’s targeting of humanitarian aid as a means of targeting migrants has been well documented.
Despite pressure by Border Patrol, No More Deaths will continue to provide food, water, and medical care to those crossing the desert.
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