Sunday, September 26, 2021

US Border Patrol accused of destroying water, food aid for migrants

Tucson, Arizona, Jan 17 (EFE).- The organization No More Deaths on Wednesday denounced the US Border Patrol for not only routinely interfering with its humanitarian efforts in the Arizona desert but also destroying water, food and other supplies it leaves for undocumented migrants trying to cross into this country.

In its report entitled “Interference with Humanitarian Aid, Death and Disappearance on the U.S. Mexico Border,” released on Wednesday, the organization claims that “Through statistical analysis, video evidence, and personal experience, our team has uncovered a disturbing reality. In the majority of cases, US border patrol agents are responsible for the widespread interference with essential humanitarian efforts.”

The report adds that Border Patrol agents routinely vandalize or destroy containers of water that No More Deaths volunteers leave along the desert migration routes.

“It’s inhumane that they are intentionally dumping the water that could save a person’s life,” John Washington, a volunteer with No More Deaths, told EFE.

“The practice of destruction of and interference with aid is not the deviant behavior of a few rogue border patrol agents, it is a systemic feature of enforcement practices in the borderlands,” added the report.

Between March 2012 and December 2015, No More Deaths distributed more than 31,558 gallons of water, of which more than 86 percent was used by migrants, but at least 3,583 gallons was dumped – possibly by hunters, hikers and border militia members, but mainly by Border Patrol agents – in a desert corridor near the Arivaca region.

“We know that it could be animals (damaging the aid drops), but this type of damage is very different,” said the volunteer.

In addition to clandestinely recorded videos of some of the destructive efforts by Border Patrol agents, No More Deaths also has collected the testimony of volunteers and some of the migrants themselves.

“The group places water on public and private lands, taking into account the jurisdiction (there), the hunting seasons, the presence of militia members (and) the only constant component in all these places is the presence of Border Patrol agents,” Washington said.

Over the past two decades, the remains of some 7,000 people have been found along the US- Mexico border.

During the period under study – that is, March 2012 to December 2015 – the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office reported that the remains of 593 people were discovered in Arizona’s border region.

In its conclusions, the report asks that Customs and Border Protection dismantle the Border Patrol and establish a reparations program for the families of all the migrants who have disappeared or died as a result of US policy along the border.

It also asks that the harassment of humanitarian aid volunteers be acknowledged and the destruction and confiscation of water be prohibited.

EFE contacted the Border Patrol for comment but so far the agency has made no statement regarding the report.