We’ve heard isolated stories of federal officials interfering with activist groups along the border, as in the case of No More Deaths volunteer Dan Millis, who was ticketed for littering after leaving a canister of water for migrants crossing the desert. Unfortunately, it seems these incidents are part of a broader crackdown against activists by a variety of federal agencies, a disturbing pattern brought to light in an excellent piece by Tim Vanderpool for the Tucson Weekly.
“Officially, migrant deaths here [in the desert south of Arivaca, Arizona] each year number in the hundreds. Humanitarians who hike this country call those numbers bullshit,” Vanderpool writes. “They say the desert is haunted by thousands of unfound dead people.”
And in the last year or so, as Vanderpool documents, activists with several groups who provide water, food, and other supplies for migrants have noticed increasing interference with their work from “federal agencies ranging from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management to the Border Patrol.”
This crackdown could keep untold numbers of migrants from completing their journeys. Julianne Ong Hing wrote in a recent issue of ColorLines that last summer, volunteers from just one of these organizations, No More Deaths, “had face-to-face contact with 580 migrants, giving them food, water or medical attention. It’s a statistic … that does not count the untold numbers who empty the canisters of water and supplies left along the trail by humanitarian aid groups every night.”