One Last Thing

Mary Cuevas

Mary Cuevas

Mary Cuevas
Tucson, Arizona, USA
November 08
Freelance writer, educator, blogger. Have dabbled in documentary filmmaking. Dropped out of college to experience life. Lived in most major cities in USA and also London, England and Wellington, New Zealand. Waited tables while traveling and living for these ten years. Returned to college, studied history at UCLA, earned a BA. Taught overseas in Bogota, Colombia and Gumi, S. Korea.


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MARCH 15, 2009 12:03PM

Humane Borders

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Humane Borders

Bob and Joe of Humane Borders standing next to truck at Mexican border; the wall in the background

I went out with Humane Borders yesterday. Left Tucson at seven in the morning and returned around one in the afternoon. We went down through Three Points out on the Tohono O'odham Nation and then on down Highway 286 towards Sasabe and the Mexican border. We hit 7 water stations. Meaning we checked on 7 water stations.

The stations are set up off the highway down dirt roads. Humane Borders has placed blue flags so we can find them...and more importantly, so the migrants crossing the deadly heat and cold of the desert out here can find them.

I forgot to take a photo of a water station, but if you look at the photo of the truck, the two blue barrels are exactly what we have set up out at the water stations. Migrants can either fill up bottles they are carrying, or sip from the faucets.

Humane Borders truck

The trucks, filled with water, have a hose similar to what you might see on a fire truck, only smaller. If the barrels are empty, we take the hose and fill it up. Pretty simple.

Humane Borders has an excellent set up out there. Pima County government gives $25,000 to keep the barrels full. Some rich benefactor in Tucson gives $20,000 a year. And then various other orgs and places help fund the $100,000 per year operation.

Humane borders has 5 trucks. I think that is what Bob and Joe told me yesterday. Bob has been volunteering for 2 years or so. And Joe has gone out on 7 or 8 runs. I asked Bob how many water stations were set up out in the desert. He said 99. They even have a few out Organ Pipe way.

Since this was my first trip out, Bob and Joe gave me the grand tour and took me on the scenic route. We saw a herd of deer. Not sure if herd is the right word. A pack of deer? Anyway, that was way cool. He also took me to meet the park ranger out at Buenos Aires Refuge/National Park. Cool old man with a cool old chocolate colored dog.

Sasabe Store

Bob asked if I had seen the wall yet. I had not. So we drove through Sasabe, passing the one and only store in the town. Just past Sasabe is the Mexican border. We passed the new detention center they have built to process the migrants. The border checkpoint was completely empty except for us.

Detention Center built to process migrants

The wall is definitely an unsightly sight for sore eyes. Bob told me that they brought in the medal from old airstrips in Vietnam. Think that is what he said. He also told me that about two weeks ago an endangered jaguar was found trying to get to the other side of the fence. It is a long unhappy story, but Bob said they tried to collar the jaguar to track it. They found the jaguar again in some serious distress a few weeks later and were forced to euthanize it.
The Wall

In my training last weekend, I discovered that the wall only causes a 5 minute delay to migrant crossing. They manage to get over quite easily. However, the animals who live out in the desert are not so lucky and it is causing their migration to be interrupted. I actually saw a video on all of this last week during our training presented by someone from the Sierra Club. You can watch it on their website if interested.

Sign just outside Sasabe

In my humble opinion the wall must come down. Moreover, we need to get to the economic root of the problem with migration. A European Union type system was proposed by Vicente Fox at the beginning of his term as president of Mexico. Can you imagine that? An open border between Canada and Mexico?

Border check point was empty outside Sasabe

Bet the disparity between rich and poor in Mexico would be on the top of the agenda of whomever became predident of this European Union type system. Guess a good name would be North American Union.
The wall that killed the jaguar
Posted by Mary Cuevas at 7:26 AM 0 comments Links to this post

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Thank god for humane people.
One of my HS girls did a piece of art with the wall and the yearly count of the dead who tried for a better life...
Amazing that it is a construct of hatred which serves no other purpose than to kill animals... chilling...
yep steph, it is just so wrong. broke my heart to be up close and personal with it. and yes the body count out in the desert is astounding and disgusting. thanks for commenting.
I had no idea about water stations. It is such a small act by it's definition, but it blows right off of the humane index for sheer kindness and loving forethought.
thanks cat,
but i didn't write about the other two orgs out here in tucson who are doing great things. no more deaths and the smaritans. nmd has actual camps set up ou near the border. thye just put uop a medical tent...sort of like what we saw in the tv show m.a.s.h.

nmd spend the day looking for migrants who are near death, have blisters, and any other medical need of attention. or just someone to talk to. at night they stay in their camps....even though many migrants travel throught the night. it is just too dangerous now to work at night because of the drug runners.

smaratins are similar, but thye just cruise the roads and dirt roads and call out, "do you need water or food? do you need maedial help." samritans do not stay out over night.
thanks for commenting cat!!!:)
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall" - Robert Frost, Mending Wall

The wall is an obscenity, an ugly scar on the face of the earth, a monument to fear, hatred and willful ignorance. After decades of holding out the Berlin Wall as the emblem of a social system founded in violence and repression, our political leaders find it in their wisdom to seek to replicate it on our own borders, it's the real-life analog of that passage in "1984" when all the placards are changed, the murderous enemy and heroic ally are instantly and without explanation transformed each to the opposite role, and no one questions it

How gratifying to know that organizations like those you describe are there to lend assistance and compassion, thanks for taking us on this tour

rated for selfless service
That really upsets me about the jaguar that was killed by the wall. And, if what you say is true, that it only stops the migrants for 5 minutes, it's useless--a sad commentary on American values.

What you are doing with Humane Borders is wonderful. I hope you will continue to inform us about the issue.
hi roy,
yes the wall is an absolute disgrace. i was very moved when we drove up to it. as mentioned in my post, it causes maybe a five minute delay at best. migrants get over this 16ft eye sore.

but the animals are not so lucky. that jaguar had been roaming the area for years, bob said. and look how bis life ended. just not right in my book.
hi stellaa,
been busy moving. :) things are good here in tucson. my dad is doing great.
and i love all the great orgs out here helping with regfugees and also migrants crossing into america.:)
hi joan k,
yes it is very sad about the jaguar. the wall has to come down.
thanks for commenting.

i made some edits to this post, added a few other photos, and corrected spelling errors. and for some reason it came up all in bold. sorry about that. did not mean to do that and could not seem to correct it.