Tuning into any new station, it’s difficult to not see a news story that involves the current administration’s act of separating children from their families. The large public outcry from people in the US and other nations on family separation has magnified immigration issues even further in the politically charged atmosphere. While this is undoubtedly a problem that should be dealt with immediately, we should not forget an equally important issue: the extremely dangerous journey that immigrants must endure along the southern border.
The administration’s zero tolerance policy to criminalize immigration works in conjunction with border patrol’s strategy of “prevention through deterrence”, which forces immigrants through inhospitable desert terrain. No Mas Muertes, a non-profit organization that provides food and water along known migrant routes in the Sonoran Desert, gave us the opportunity to experience a mere glimpse of these conditions. After we each packed two gallons of water and several cans of food into our backpacks, we commenced our two-hour round trip hike to two water-drop locations.
Ten minutes into the hike, I could already feel the sweat start to accumulate on my back. Walking along the desert trails, you attempt to find shade wherever possible to provide the slightest bit of cover from the scorching sun. We take frequent breaks to ensure we stay hydrated and don’t fatigue ourselves too quickly. Every time we reached a water drop, I took a minute to reflect on how many immigrants have walked the same trail. How tired and dehydrated they must have been. It’s difficult to pack enough food and water for a day; it’s impossible for weeks as some immigrants may experience.
Our relatively short hike doesn’t come close to the true arduous journey, but it was a good starting place. Even if someone were to pack adequately for the desert, it doesn’t account for the potential accidents and animals that inhabit the desert. As I look across the hills and mountains in the distance, it’s easy to see how someone can get lost. Despite the border’s militarization, people are still desperate enough to risk their lives crossing the border in these treacherous conditions. With the growing public attention towards immigration issues, we should divert some of our attention to the hundreds of deaths happening along our borders.