Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thank God! There ARE Humanitarians Among Us on the Border! Perhaps there IS Hope for Our World!

As Jesus said, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me." The Humanitarian group, "No More Deaths" is living by His words. Perhaps there is hope for our world yet! reports:
ARIVACA, AZ (where little Brisenia Flores was murdered by MM's Shawna Forde & Gunny Bush)- A group on the border is fighting a different kind of immigration battle, as the death toll among illegal immigrants skyrockets.
Chris Fleischman is an engineer with an aerospace company in Phoenix. But when he’s not testing plane engines, Fleischman is out in the desert with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths. The group gives food, water and medical aid to migrants crossing through the desert. Volunteers come from around the country and base themselves at a camp on the private land of a woman who supports their cause. The camp includes a small kitchen, several tents, an eating area and a medical tent, where people can recover if they are dehydrated or have heat stroke or hypothermia. Volunteers spend their days hiking for miles in extreme heat, making their way through rough terrain, looking for people who need help and leaving bottles of fresh water in the desert. They created maps and paths with the help of a GPS, based on where they have seen people in the past.

It is rare for volunteers to come in contact with border crossers during the middle of the day. Fleischman says they usually make the trip at night, when it’s easier to hide and the weather is cooler. Extreme temperatures aren’t the only problem the immigrants face. The land is thick with vegetation. Animals like rattle snakes, scorpions and coyotes run wild. “If you don’t have good lights, and they probably don’t, there’s just not very much chance you’re going to walk out of here and not get injured,” said Fleischman. Volunteers say by the time they come in contact with many of the people crossing the border, the immigrants are so exhausted and weak, they are ready to turn back to Mexico and ask No More Deaths to call Border Patrol.
The Pima County medical examiner says there have been so many deaths in the desert among illegal immigrants crossing the southern border, the office is using a refrigerated truck to store some of the bodies. July was the second deadliest month on record. The death toll in that county alone so far this year is 153 people. “I think more migrants are taking bigger risks by going farther away from the normal routes of travel to get away from all the border militarization that we’ve built up around here,” said Fleischman.

Border Patrol spokesman David Jimarez says Border Patrol does not officially support or endorse humanitarian aid groups like No More Deaths, because of the danger volunteers could meet armed drug and human smugglers in the desert. But he says Border Patrol appreciates the eyes and ears on the ground, volunteers who take on the 2,000 miles of borderland to save lives by giving border crossers food, water and medical attention. Jimarez says coyotes usually don’t prepare the people they smuggle for the dangers that lie ahead, and that it is not even humanly possible to take enough water across the border before making it to civilization.

After dark, two men make their way to the camp looking for help. “They can’t walk along the road at night, first of all, because it’s easy to get lost, and second of all, because the Border Patrol could easily pick them up,” said one volunteer who asked not to be identified. The humanitarian group is not allowed to give migrants rides or let them stay at camp for prolonged periods of time. “That’s sort of a protocol that No More Deaths has laid out, mainly that we’re not going to further someone’s presence here, because we’re not here to be a shipping service for migrants. We’re just here to save lives.” Volunteers give the men food and water and send them on their way.

When asked how the group responds to critics who suggest volunteers are helping people enter the United States illegally, Fleischman says humanitarian aid is not a crime. “It's a humanitarian issue,” he said. “Our government needs to address why people are coming, and until that time, we want to reduce the numbers of people who are dying every day here. This has been the worst month in our history, and we just need to reduce the deaths. It's not an illegal thing to help people who need help.” But the group has come under fire for its work.

Volunteers often find slashed water containers. In 2008, Dan Millis and several other volunteers were fined for littering, after leaving water bottles in a wildlife refuge where he found body days earlier. Millis and others were found guilty in court. Mills appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court on principal, and is waiting for a decision.
Empty water bottles, food packages, backpacks, articles of clothing and blankets can be found scattered around the desert, and some people who live on the border have expressed anger about trash strewn around the pristine land. “It's something that we don't like to see either, and we pick it up,” said Fleischman.

In a lush, green area surrounded by pink rock and flowing water, volunteers constructed a shrine for a 14-year-old girl named Josseline who died of hypothermia while trying to lead her younger brother across the border. Volunteers leave water at the shrine, so other immigrants who pass through the area can avoid a similar fate. For now, the group just hopes they can save more lives, no matter what side of the border they are from. Stay tuned next week for the story of a border rancher and good friend of murder victim Rob Krentz, who says he fears for his life and supports tougher border security. Find out why he says he supports the efforts of No More Deaths.


The Arizonian said...

Jesus also said:
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple."

Luke 14:26

And then in Matthew 10:34-37

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

The Arizonian said...

I wonder if Humanity without borders is still around, or if this group was born from that.

I still remember the work I did with them.

Dee said...

Poor AZ,
The Bible is illustrative. The two verses you cite suggest that Christ / God is to be worshipped before all things on earth.

In the second, the sword is illustrative as well. This verse suggests the power of overcoming evil.

Two of my favorites that illustrate His overall message:

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.


1 Corinthians 13:13
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

oh, and my favorite of all that my Mother taught me as a little child:

Matthew 6:28-29
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

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