The final days of the delegation consisted of us traveling across the border and visiting a Comedor, which aids migrants crossing, by providing a hot meal, a phone and a roof. We crossed the enormous wall that continues to be built “dividing” Mexico and Arizona. We were searched trying to ENTER Mexico, not the US, as well as several miles away from the border, in the middle of the desert. I felt like I could be in a post-apocalyptic movie or the Occupied Territories.
By far, the most moving experience was listening to the Promotoras speak. The Promotoras, a group of organizer with Derechos Humanos were kind enough to wait for us despite out late arrival, due to a tire blow out. We heard from a woman whose husband and children were detained, while she was forced to give birth in the presence of ICE agents. After delivering she was given 10 days to recover and was deported with her new born, but she returned for her children. With a new born, this brave woman crossed the desert in seven days, to be reunited with her family. It made me ask myself, what parent would not do that? My parents would.
On the last day of the delegation, we visited the Tohono O’odham nation. There I saw how indigenous and desert customs are being destroyed. As mentioned in an earlier blog, the land of the Tohono O’odham spans across Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, and because of this the area is full of border patrol both on the border and further into Arizona. Indigenous people, by participating in traditional and everyday activities are subject to harassment and detention. What would you do if saw an elder and a child walking in an isolated desert? Would you offer them a ride? It is traditional for people living in isolated, harsh environment, especially desert to show hospitality to visitors. This hospitality can save lives, and is very important.
Now in Arizona, if you offer someone a ride out of the cold, rain or desert, you are subject to arrest. We learned of a woman who picked up two gentlemen in the middle of the night, in winter. She drove them to the nearest gas station and got them coffee. Unfortunately, a Border Patrol agent saw her and her vehicle was taken.
When are we going to make human life a priority? Why do we excuse abuse, discrimination, exploitation? We need to wake up and realize that what has, and is happening to us, is happening to others. Once we remember our history and join with immigrants, Mexican, Muslim, Nigerian, Haitian, then we will achieve community and freedom.
The same people, ideas, corporations, and justification that have been and continue to oppress African Americans and immigrants of color alike. I challenge African Americans to remember what they were taught, or do some research, or contact BAJI and learn about how you can connect with immigrants of color coming to the United States, and immigrants crossing the Border.