Last month I received a letter from Maria Singleton, a woman I met in November in Nogales at a demonstration organized by School of Americas Watch. She identified herself as a member of a humanitarian aid organization based in Ajo, AZ near the U.S., Mexico border.
She wrote “…This last year has been rough for humanitarian aid workers in Ajo with the arrest of Scott Warren and 8 No More Deaths volunteers charged with misdemeanors and fined for leaving water for migrants out on the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge. In order to get a permit to enter the wildlife refuge they are requiring people to sign a form that says they will not leave water, socks or first aid items out. These are the exact items that we leave out for the migrants that are passing through this incredibly dangerous part of the desert. This policy started last August and resulted in the charges that our friends with No More Deaths are now facing. “
Maria pointed out that she and her partner own property directly across from the entrance to Cabeza Prieta which abuts the Mexican border. This region has the highest migrant death rate due to the brutality of the desert crossing. Maria offered the walls of their building which is ironically known as “the ice house” as it was the place where ice was stored for the town of Ajo (during its copper mining boom years from the early 1900s through the 1960s). She also noted that there will be a faith based action of civil disobedience August 3 – 6 which will be staged in Cabeza Prieta.
As stated by the Faith Floods the Desert organizers “Our purpose in this action is three-fold. First, to call attention to the escalating injustice of US policies toward migrants in order to inspire others to raise their voices. Second, to act in solidarity with the volunteers facing criminal charges for living out their religious mandate to welcome and care for the stranger. And third, to raise the call of our faith traditions as an act of resistance against the cruelty and violence that dominate US policy and actions.”
Joined by a small crew of filmmakers and assistants I journeyed to Ajo to begin to understand what’s happening there and to install the message “water is life.” We were welcomed warmly by the Ajo activist community to whom I’d like to recognize for their expressions of shared humanity and for their bravery. Shout out to the world’s finest crew as well – Justin Clifton, Drew Ludwig, Stash Wislocki and Jerrel Singer.
For more information on the impact of this administration’s border policy on humanitarian aid workers
Examples of border patrol activity disrupting humanitarian aid efforts:
More information on the upcoming Faith Floods the Desert action: