SIDEBAR :: Humanity for the Crossing

Some provide water, others education and advocacy. Individuals in border states are making human rights real.
This image of Mike Wilson leaving water for border crossers appears on the cover of 'Mercy on the Arizona Migrant Trail,' a CD featuring Tucson songwriters. Proceeds benefit border organizations. For CD information, email: myatt2[at]mindspring.com.

In the scorching heat of the Sonoran Desert, bright yellow Border Patrol signs bear a stern warning. The message, written in Spanish, translates to: “Caution! Do not expose your life to the elements. It's not worth it!”

Since 1998, more than 2,000 Mexicans have died trying to cross the border. The leading causes of death are not unnecessarily violent law enforcement or car accidents, but heat stroke, dehydration, and hypothermia.

Working with other volunteers from Humane Borders, Mike Wilson of the Tohono O'Odham tribe leaves fresh water for those desperate enough to brave the desert crossing. Another grassroots organization called No More Deaths follows a similar mission, and also provides medical attention to those who need it.

These groups are part of a larger movement to end the hardship immigrant families must endure, both in their passage across the border and in their struggle to find equal rights once they arrive. Organizations like The Border Action Network and The Border Network for Human Rights work tirelessly to educate border residents about their human rights, and to ensure that their voices are heard by government representatives. Samaritans and BorderLinks facilitate programs that promote sympathy and understanding between U.S. and Mexican citizens.

— Catherine Bailey