Posted on March 2, 2005

‘No More Deaths Camp’ An Oasis for Migrants

Ignacio Ibarra, Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), Mar. 2

NORTHERN SONORA — In the afternoon lines of migrants can be seen moving like long dark centipedes, inching their way north along the desert floor.

They stick to the washes and brushy hillsides that offer the most cover, in hopes of making it beyond the heavily guarded, seven-strand barbed-wire fence that separates Mexico from the United States.

By midnight, they begin trickling into the No More Deaths Camp, where Arizona activists teamed up with Mexican citizens since Thursday to provide food, water and a resting place to U.S.-bound migrants on a busy footpath between Agua Prieta and Naco.

The camp — the fourth set up since October — was scheduled to run for two more days, but ended Tuesday after supplies ran out due to the unexpectedly high response.

Thursday through Monday, the camp served more than 1,500 meals of beans, rice, potatoes, tortillas and bread, and distributed more than 800 gallons of water and supplies.

Organizers including Tommy Bassett of the group Healing Our Borders say the camp is there to aid those in distress and maybe even keep someone from dying. The Border Patrol says 141 illegal entrants died along the Arizona border with Mexico last fiscal year, but an Arizona Daily Star analysis of medical examiner and Mexican consulate reports put the figure at more than 200.

Critics say the weeklong encampments provide aid and comfort to an invasion the U.S. government is unable or unwilling to stop.

“It is essentially a challenge to the sovereignty of the United States and I think it could be the beginning of something very dangerous. It’s aiding and abetting. It’s part of a process designed to aid those trying to violate U.S. law,” said Glenn Spencer of the American Border Patrol, an anti-illegal-immigration group based in Sierra Vista.