Friday, August 29, 2008

Seeking an American dream of a better life [updated with petition link]

The border wall forces potential crossers away from safer urban areas to cross deeper into the desert and in remote, dangerous places. This spring a friend's friend, who volunteers for a humanitarian organization in Arizona assisting immigrants, sent this message. Dan is doing front line work, as you'll soon learn, and he gave blanket permission to reprint this:

Border Eclipse by Dan Mills
Right now I am trying to decide if I want to write this. I think I do, because you need to know. And you need to do something. We all do.

Yesterday afternoon three young volunteers and I were on a No More Deaths patrol in a remote desert canyon. We were dropping off water, food, blankets, shoes and socks along some remote migrant trails. Walking up the canyon, I saw some green shoes, and, thinking they looked pretty new, began to yell, as we always do, "Hola, hola! Tenemos agua, comida, somos de la iglesia, blah blah..." [B.E.'s note: "Hello, hello! We have water, food, we're from the church, blah blah..."] I only got to the second "hola" before I saw her teeth, and spun around, and told my friends: "Stop."

I had never found someone dead in the desert before. The feeling is horrendous. So ugly, frustrating, tragic. I just looked at my feet and said "Goddammit." I'm still mad. Joseline was only fourteen years old. She was from El Salvador, heading to the West Coast to reunite with family members there. I can't stop thinking of all the freshmen I taught at VVS - she could have been one of them.

Because obtaining a visa through official means is next to impossible, she, and thousands like her, can't cross the border at a port of entry. Instead, our spineless government builds walls to force them into the furthest, most inhospitable stretches of desert. As crossing without documents becomes more difficult, the price of the journey rises. Now smuggling people is as profitable as smuggling drugs, so cartels are more involved and violence is increasing. "Securing the border" is a stupid term that just means speeding up this vicious cycle. Each year, hundreds of people die trying to cross the southern borderlands, walking north for a better life. Still, it is very rare for humanitarian aid organizations like No More Deaths to find a deceased migrant in the desert. It only happens about once a year. I guess this year my friends and I are the unlucky ones.

I'm not writing this message asking for sympathy. I'm asking for action. Though the many calls and kind words I've already received are appreciated, I don't feel comforted. How can I take solace when what we ran across yesterday is a regular occurrence here in the U.S?

...How can we feel secure when our neighbors are being rounded up and scapegoated in our own communities, far from the border? How can anyone feel comforted when a kangaroo court called "Operation Streamline" is forcing poor and hungry people to beg a judge for forgiveness for their "crime" of trying to feed their families? or face jail time and criminal records?

U.S. border policy is designed to neglect, berate, scapegoat, humiliate, torture, and kill innocent people. Let's change it. Now, goddammit!
Your friend Dan

August 29: Day 3 of March for Peace and Unity against the Border Wall Many are marching and demonstrating against the Border Wall in the El Paso, TX area. What can I do today?
Today's Action Suggestion:
Sign the petition against the border wall found at the No Texas Border Wall website.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Ok, I just searched for and signed an online petition, and I sent the following message to Senator Durbin, Senator Obama, and Congresswoman Bean:

I am writing to express my opposition to the border wall currently under construction between the United States and Mexico.

1. It is obscenely expensive.
2. Even the federal government says that it will not work.
3. It damages the environment.
4. It forces desperate people deeper into desert places to try to make the crossing, and they die.
5. It damages our image to the world by portraying us as a closed-off, unfriendly nation, not the welcoming nation of Emma Lazarus's poem.

Please ask the U.S. Congress to halt this project.

Mariamariacuchita said...

This is unbearably painful to read about. A police officer in south Texas once told me that some of the ranchers have actually been shooting those crossing over and leaving their dead bodies in the desert as a warning to others.

Mariamariacuchita said...

Sorry, was cut off before I could finish (my work connection.) There is so much complexity to this region, so much pain and suffering. Please thank your friend for all the difficult work being done down there and thank you for providing such timely and educational posts/

Border Explorer said...

Ruth, I hope your action inspires me and others to act also. One email/letter/phone call = 100 blog posts.
Thanks for your petition action also. I need to get a link up here for that. Thanks so much for your comment!!

Maria, what the police officer told you about is horrifying. Sadly, I believe it, having seen and heard of other horrible things in this area.
I want to thank you for reading these posts and enriching them with your comments. I think (hope) some activists will perhaps read for themselves your praise of them here on this post.

Border Explorer said...

Here's the link to the No Border Wall website where you can sign their petition to Chertoff.

Randal Graves said...

Typical m.o. these days. Use fear to turn a blind eye to the truth, toss a leaky band aid on the problem while the cronies who make the band aid get rich.

It's what Republican Jesus would want.

QuakerDave said...

Wow. What an incredible story.

Signing that petition NOW.

FranIAm said...

Signed the petition, emails to follow.

This is so important- thanks for your tireless efforts BE!

Border Explorer said...

Geesh, Fran, thank YOU (any everyone who stops by here) for your support/ongoing interest.

I know this topic isn't fun, exciting, timely as we conclude the DNC. It amazes me that anyone continues to track this blog. I'm really grateful.

enigma4ever said... so sad...and incredibly mind boggling....thank you for posting this...I am having trouble reading the other comments...but I do think that this story needs to be spread...and shared- I will do what I can....

D.K. Raed said...

B.E. I'm signing the petition (of course!). You should put a link up in your post, too.

It's a terrible situation. It calls upon each person to search their own humanity & think, what if it was me?

Border Explorer said...

Enigma, thanks for offering to spread the word. So many people tune into you. You can really make a difference.

D.K.--great idea! The post is updated with the petition link. I noticed they're hoping for 5,000 signers and are over halfway there. It seems like an achievable goal; I hope they do it.

Dusty said...

As a SoCal resident and former AZ resident, I am sadly familiar with the death and dying in the deserts.

But that said, it doesn't make it any easier for me to read a new story like this.

It breaks my heart and makes me mad as hell, all at the same time.

PUtting this up at Sirens B.E. Thank you for getting the word out and the link to the petition.

susan said...

I've signed it too. It's crazy what they've been able to get away with and what they're still doing.

Did anybody wonder why there was no mention of Guantanamo and torture during the Democratic convention? We need to keep on sending emails to our Congresspeople and Senators too.

Border Explorer said...

Thanks, Dusty. I was thinking to offer you this story; you're so pro-active, that really helps. And once again, living along the border you do get exposure to these stories. I haven't seen even one like this in the Iowa press since May.

Susan, that is a good question re. torture/Guantanamo coming up at the DNC. An ugly omission indeed! Torturing people in our policy...intolerable!