Last week the organization No More Deaths, in collaboration with La Coalición de Derechos Humanos, released a report accusing CBP (Customs and Border Protection) agents of systematically sabotaging the humanitarian organizations’ efforts to assist undocumented immigrants. They released videos showing Border Patrol agents destroying water jugs and other supplies left in the desert by humanitarians to prevent migrant deaths.
According to the report, volunteers found vandalized water gallons 415 times, twice a week on average, in the 800-square-mile section of the Sonoran Desert the organization works southwest of Tucson, from March 2012 to December 2015. CBP agents emptied 3,586 gallons of water. Additionally, the report accuses the federal agency of harassing volunteers and states that the conduct is not a product of rogue agents but is a systematic practice.
You can see one of the videos of agents vandalizing life-saving supplies here:
Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund supports No More Deaths’ efforts to offer humanitarian help to individuals trekking through the harsh Arizona desert, many of whom are women and minors. LLFF does not believe immigrants should be condemned to death in the desert for seeking a better life in the U.S. and condemns the attacks on the humanitarian volunteers and their efforts to save human lives.
No More Deaths (NMD) has issued a statement on their website asking the federal authorities to stop sabotaging humanitarian efforts.
We demand an immediate end to the destruction or removal of water, food, blankets, and any other humanitarian-aid supplies left for border crossers. We also demand an immediate end to any interference with humanitarian-aid efforts. We demand that you enact a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) or similar protocol or directive, formally designating the destruction of humanitarian-aid supplies and the obstruction of humanitarian-aid efforts as a fireable offense for US Border Patrol agents. We further demand that you document these and all other internal disciplinary measures in publicly accessible records.
Now, one of NMD’s activists has been arrested on smuggling charges hours after the report and the videos were released.
According to the criminal complaint, CBP agents were surveilling the NMD hub called “The Barn,” where Scott Daniel Warren, a volunteer with the group, was spotted exiting a vehicle. Two alleged undocumented migrants exited The Barn and started talking to Warren. Border Patrol agents, along with Pima County Sheriff’s deputies, approached and talked to the individuals.
Warren was later accused of providing the migrants crossing the desert with food, water, space to rest and clean clothes for three days, which is what NMD has been doing for years.
No More Deaths sees Warren’s arrest as an escalation of the repression against the organization’s humanitarians that started last June 2017 with a raid on their camp. It is also consistent with the targeting of immigrant rights activists that is going on in other organizations across the country.
“Scott has been instrumental coordinating humanitarian efforts near Ajo, Arizona, where the government’s agents funnel the trek of migrants into the deadliest corridor of the Sonoran Desert with extreme temperatures in the summer and winter and through a military bombing range,” said Alicia Dinsmore, a spokeswoman for the group.
No More Deaths condemns Warren’s arrest and will continue to provide vital humanitarian aid, Dinsmore stated.