Sunday, March 15, 2009

Humane Borders

Bob and Joe of Humane Borders standing next to truck at Mexican border; the wall in the background

I went out with Humane Borders yesterday. Left Tucson at seven in the morning and returned around one in the afternoon. We went down through Three Points out on the Tohono O'odham Nation and then on down Highway 286 towards Sasabe and the Mexican border. We hit 7 water stations. Meaning we checked on 7 water stations.

The stations are set up off the highway down dirt roads. Humane Borders has placed blue flags so we can find them...and more importantly, so the migrants crossing the deadly heat and cold of the desert out here can find them.

I forgot to take a photo of a water station, but if you look at the photo of the truck, the two blue barrels are exactly what we have set up out at the water stations. Migrants can either fill up bottles they are carrying, or sip from the faucets.

Humane Borders truck

The trucks, filled with water, have a hose similar to what you might see on a fire truck, only smaller. If the barrels are empty, we take the hose and fill it up. Pretty simple.

Humane Borders has an excellent set up out there. Pima County government gives $25,000 to keep the barrels full. Some rich benefactor in Tucson gives $20,000 a year. And then various other orgs and places help fund the $100,000 per year operation.

Humane borders has 5 trucks. I think that is what Bob and Joe told me yesterday. Bob has been volunteering for 2 years or so. And Joe has gone out on 7 or 8 runs. I asked Bob how many water stations were set up out in the desert. He said 99. They even have a few out Organ Pipe way.

Since this was my first trip out, Bob and Joe gave me the grand tour and took me on the scenic route. We saw a herd of deer. Not sure if herd is the right word. A pack of deer? Anyway, that was way cool. He also took me to meet the park ranger out at Buenos Aires Refuge/National Park. Cool old man with a cool old chocolate colored dog.

Sasabe Store

Bob asked if I had seen the wall yet. I had not. So we drove through Sasabe, passing the one and only store in the town. Just past Sasabe is the Mexican border. We passed the new detention center they have built to process the migrants. The border checkpoint was completely empty except for us.

Detention Center built to process migrants

The wall is definitely an unsightly sight for sore eyes. Bob told me that they brought in the metal from old airstrips in Vietnam. Think that is what he said. He also told me that about two weeks ago an endangered jaguar was found trying to get to the other side of the fence. It is a long unhappy story, but Bob said they tried to collar the jaguar to track it. They found the jaguar again in some serious distress a few weeks later and were forced to euthanize it.
The Wall

In my training last weekend, I discovered that the wall only causes a 5 minute delay to migrant crossing. They manage to get over quite easily. However, the animals who live out in the desert are not so lucky and it is causing their migration to be interrupted. I actually saw a video on all of this last week during our training presented by someone from the Sierra Club. You can watch it on their website if interested.

Sign just outside Sasabe

In my humble opinion the wall must come down. Moreover, we need to get to the economic root of the problem with migration. A European Union type system was proposed by Vicente Fox at the beginning of his term as president of Mexico. Can you imagine that? An open border between Canada and Mexico?

Border check point was empty outside Sasabe

Bet the disparity between rich and poor in Mexico would be on the top of the agenda of whomever became president of this European Union type system. Guess a good name would be North American Union.
The wall that killed the jaguar

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

our mary, am investigating the blog system for the 1st time and it has to be yours. though fence obstruction is a worse barrier for wildlife, there was one jaguar baited by fish and game for radio-collaring eventually euthanized at phoenix zoo, under investigation, of course. on the other side, early this year and camped on a desert hill near agua caliente, three apparitions w/ hands helded high approached my friend and i, one pleading in english "in the name of jesus christ, do you have any water?" four days on foot since mexicali is better in january. the five us had a very nice hour, guitar and xylophone provided. thanx for turning me on to yr blog. ran