Border Patrol Surveils and Harasses Humanitarian Aid Station on Christmas Eve, Telling Volunteers They are Seeking a Warrant to Raid
WASHINGTON - Late Wednesday, a few days before Christmas, while overnight temperatures dropped below freezing, Border Patrol agents surrounded 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.”
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No More Deaths is a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona. We began in 2004 in the form of a coalition of community and faith groups, dedicated to stepping up efforts to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert and to achieving the enactment of a set of Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform. We later developed into an autonomous project. Since 2008 we have been an official ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson.