To anyone reading- sorry that I haven’t updated since leaving Orientation! Been up to a fair amount in the last couple weeks…
For one, I’ve toured different sections of the border wall. Way to the east of Douglas, the wall abruptly ends and becomes a stretch of vehicle barrier with barbed wire draped across. On the Mexican side, and far to the west, you can drive through the desert to a tree where people from No More Deaths and other volunteers leave water in the shade for migrants, and walk about 100 meters over steep hills, railroad, and parched earth to see the wall tower 20 feet or more over your head. Here you would find sections where the lower half of the wall raises and lowers to allow Border Patrol vehicles to pass, or to clear away downed trees and other wreckage that could cause flooding if they obstructed enough rainfall. I’ve been told that migrants do sometimes drown in the ditches that appear alongside the border wall.
But for those attempting the dangerous trek across the Mexican state of Sonora and into the Arizona deserts, the greatest danger is, of course, exposure to extreme heat and dehydration. There are other hazards, too. Some people break legs or twist ankles while climbing/jumping the wall, others develop terrible sores or blisters on their feet
Anyways, I feel like I have more to report now that I know I will be a coordinator for the Migrant Resource Center here in Agua Prieta. Those who give their time in the MRC do their best to make migrants feel comfortable. The Center is supposed to be a safe space where those in transit can come and have a free meal, receive some new clothing and basic medical care if they need, and share their experiences. Volunteers ask migrants where they’re from, how they’ve managed to arrive in Agua Prieta, what their reasons for making the journey north might be, and whether they’ve just been deported. If migrants claim any abuse at the hands of authorities, the MRC keeps a careful record of it.
Here are some examples of people I’ve interacted with in the past couple of days. A young man (close to me in age) asked for new underwear, and I was embarrassed to find that we didn’t have any in his size on hand. But he gladly accepted a larger pair of briefs. A woman, probably in her early thirties, came in on Monday and showed us her feet. On one of her ankles was a sore or scab at least the diameter of a golf ball; one of the ladies working my shift gave her some calamine lotion, criss-crossed some bandages over the wound, and offered her a clear new pair of white socks. Then yesterday, another guy about my age came to us with a bad ankle. He was having a hard time putting weight on it, so we gave him a crutch and took him to the hospital. I do not know if his ankle turned out to be broken, or what happened to him.
I don’t know much about any of the folks who come to the Migrant Resource Center, really. So far I haven’t been interviewing migrants myself, so while I’ve seen a fair amount of people enter the MRC in the past week or so, I don’t know their names, what they did/do for a living, what their families are like, what’s important to them, why exactly they left home, or what they hope for. I just know they’re seeking something better. I don’t believe I can give them that by passing out clothing and bean burritos, but hopefully, by being there, I can at least remind them that others care about their dignity.