By UUSC Staff on August 2, 2020
Without hesitation, UUSC condemns the recent hostile raid of the No More Deaths humanitarian aid camp near Arivaca, AZ, in which over 30 people were detained. A firm believer in the human right to migrate, we throw our unabashed support behind the No More Deaths volunteers and to immigrants risking their lives to travel across deserts with temperatures well above 100 degrees. To surveil, raid, detain, and confiscate the electronics of humanitarian aid workers providing life-saving support to those in dire need should be called out for what it is: a retaliatory campaign driven by xenophobia and racism.
This raid is one more example of a frightening pattern we’re seeing in this nation, an escalation of law enforcement being given carte blanche to stalk, intimidate, arrest, and criminalize those acting in accordance with their conscience. It is no coincidence that the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, BORTAC—an elite special operations contingent of the federal government heavily involved in the June 2017 raid of a No More Deaths camp—is now involved in the violent repression of recent racial justice protests in Portland, OR.
Border Patrol surveillance of NMD’s Byrd Camp (including illegal entry to the camp grounds without a warrant and detention of a migrant on Thursday July 30th) started the day after No More Deaths did a public exposé and released e-mails obtained by a FOIA request demonstrating that BORTAC and the Border Patrol Union were behind a 2017 raid on the camp. This pattern of retaliation for exposing CBP’s own words and actions is exactly what happened to Dr. Scott Warren in Ajo, AZ when he and two migrants were arrested less than 24 hours after NMD released a report about CBP abusive practices contributing to lives lost in the desert.
Make no mistake, now is the time for all of us to wake up. Border Patrol’s brutal treatment and interference with the right to provide compassionate aid or peacefully protest is quite close to totalitarianism and should frighten—and more importantly, outrage—each and every one us.
While aggressively detaining people migrating through the harsh Sonora Desert, the United States has halted virtually all other options for asylum-seekers to enter the country through border closures under the pretense of COVID-19 and through an overhaul of asylum rules designed to make winning nearly impossible. The United States should be ashamed for flagrantly ignoring international human rights law in the name of advancing a callously racist and xenophobic anti-immigrant agenda, a campaign that takes no responsibility for the United States’ decades-long complicity in the social and political chaos driving thousands of migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle into the United States.
We are proud and humbled to flank the volunteers of No More Deaths, the Unitarian Universalist ministers and other faith leaders who hurried to Byrd Camp to monitor the Border Patrol stake-out, and most importantly, the migrants risking their lives braving unforgiving terrain, exhaustion, dehydration, extreme temperatures, and the risk of detainment and deportation in pursuit of a right that this nation seems destined to deny them.
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!
Photo Credit: UU Justice Arizona