ORGANIZATIONS SEEK TO HELP MEXICAN BORDER CROSSERS
For the past few months, a number of religious organizations in the US Southwest that are part of a group called Humane Borders have been erecting water stations designed to serve migrants crossing through the inhospitable terrain. The group has two goals. The most immediate goal is to prevent deaths from dehydration, such as occurred last month when 14 migrants died in southern Arizona after being abandoned by smugglers. The long-term goal is to force the government into reevaluating its border policy.
Humane Borders, which operates in Arizona, is not the only group engaged in such efforts. Water Station is a California-based group that also places water in the desert. It is led by John Hunter, the brother of Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican. Unlike Humane Borders, Hunterís goal is not so much to force a policy change, but to address the daily tragedies that were occurring in his neighborhood.
To further this goal, Humane Borders is working closely with the Border Patrol. While the Border Patrol commends the humanitarian effort, it also expresses concern that the groupís efforts will create a false sense of security that the danger in the area is less than it actually is. Also, the possibility looms that the Border Patrol will decide the group is going too far and will call for their criminal prosecution.
Some Humane Borders members are debating a plan to post volunteers to rescue migrants in distress. The Border Patrol has said that the volunteers would have to turn the migrants over for deportation, but it is certain that many members, especially those who were prosecuted for similar actions during the Sanctuary movement of the 1980s, would not do so.