After sunset on October 5th in Arivaca, Arizona, 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 October 3rd.
Since 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.
Paige Corich Kleim, a volunteer present for the raid on Oct. 5 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 humanitarian law.”
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. No More Deaths 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. No More Deaths will continue to be a presence in the desert as long as Border Patrol policies create a crisis of death and disappearance.
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