“There is nowhere on Earth like the place where we work. It is beautiful beyond telling: harsh, vast, mountainous, remote, rugged, unforgiving, every cliché you can think of and more. I have been humbled countless times by the incredible selflessness and courage of the people that I have met there, and I have been driven nearly out of my head with rage at the utterly heartless economic and political system that drives people to such lengths in order to provide for their families.”
– No More Deaths Volunteer
This Spring Break, eight Harvard Law students and clinicians travelled to the U.S.-Mexico border to do humanitarian work with No More Deaths.
When we signed up, we knew the operation was contentious. We glossed over the details with our parents and felt the need to justify the work we would be doing to our law school friends. For, border policy has been framed as a security issue, and has largely been unopposed even by pro-immigration groups as most people view current enforcement policies as the necessary means to that end.
We therefore didn’t believe that this trip had to implicate our stance on immigration. Providing humanitarian aid was a moral decision, not a political one – no one should have to die of dehydration or starvation in the desert. However, the realities of the desert made it difficult to engage in humanitarian work without confronting our own political beliefs relating to what can only be described as an extreme crisis at the border.
What we found at the border was vastly different from the narrative we’ve heard in the media and in politics. The desert separating Mexico and the U.S. is a warzone and thousands of migrants have died in the last decade trying to cross it. During our week there we witnessed the terror border patrol inflicts on both migrants and residents. We saw the water bottles we put out slashed and our own tracks closely monitored. On the trail we found shrines to Our Lady of Guadalupe, abandoned backpacks, and tattered shoes, left behind by those embarking on a journey to save their lives or the lives of those they love.
Continue reading the full story here.