“It’s the right thing to do”

I’ve been out of my regular routine recently, since I’ve been traveling. For starters, I had a very enjoyable visit with my family in Oregon. We watched the total solar eclipse on Monday, which was great. Now I’m in Mexico City, where I’ll be running the Mexico City Marathon on Sunday. Looking forward to it!

Of course, I’ve continued to follow the news. And in the wake of Charlottesville, I was especially struck by one report about the right-wing rally held in Boston on Saturday. Like the one at Charlottesville, this one drew a lot of counter-protestors—actually, there were more counter-protesters than protesters—including a remarkable young woman named Imani Williams.

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Meanwhile, back in Mexico…

In my last blog entry, I wrote about my trip to Tucson. This was a bit of a milestone in a journey that seems to be leading me toward a particular form of Golden Rule activism: some form of helping migrants in the Arizona borderlands. While I was there, my partner Patricia (the woman in white and green in the picture below) reached a milestone in her own Golden Rule activism on the Mexican side of the border. I thought it might be interesting to share what was happening al otro lado while I was in Tucson.

Continue reading “Meanwhile, back in Mexico…”

A week in Tucson

I have spent the last week in Tucson with Father Ricardo Elford, the Catholic priest I mentioned in a previous post—a man who has been engaged in advocacy and humanitarian aid for migrants in the Arizona borderlands for over fifty years. Ricardo, whom I had never met in person until I saw him at the Tucson airport last Wednesday, has very kindly and generously taken me around to meet his compañeros in the Tucson immigrant-advocacy community. It has been an amazing experience.

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Óscar Romero: “Love must win out”

I just finished a marvelous biography of Óscar Romero. Romero was the former Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, who was assassinated in 1980 for speaking out for the poor and oppressed in a country where government-sponsored death squads were slaughtering all who dared to oppose the regime. I had known the broad strokes of his story before, but after learning more about him, I have to say that I am deeply inspired. This man was an amazing example of Golden Rule activism.

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The next turn in the plan

I got some news that was initially disappointing, though I’m okay with it now: No More Deaths turned down my application for the September crew at the desert aid camp.

It had nothing to do with me personally: It’s simply that they had many excellent applicants for not very many spots, and they couldn’t take everyone. The volunteer coordinator said that they are actually very heartened by the fact that in response to the grave situation at the border, so many people are eager to volunteer. She encouraged those of us who didn’t make it this time to apply for future volunteer opportunities, so I immediately put in my application for October. Continue reading “The next turn in the plan”

A snapshot of humanitarian aid in the Arizona borderlands

Through my good friend Ken Froessel, I had the honor this past week of meeting (via telephone) a man named Ricardo Elford. Ricardo is a priest who has been engaged in advocacy and humanitarian aid for migrants in the Arizona borderlands for over fifty years. Ricardo, Ken, my partner Patricia, and I had a great talk, and I look forward to meeting Ricardo in person when I go to work for No More Deaths. (The latest news: They’ll make final decisions on their September desert aid crew on July 15.)

Ricardo passed on to me an excellent recent article that provides a good snapshot of current humanitarian aid efforts for migrants in the Arizona desert—including quite a bit about the No More Deaths desert aid camp where I will hopefully be working soon. I thought you might find it helpful and interesting reading:

After Trump’s immigration crackdown, a desert clinic tries to save lives without breaking the law

Good news! No More Deaths desert aid camp not closing down after all

I have some good news to report: It turns out that the No More Deaths desert aid camp is not closing down after all. According to a NMD statement released yesterday, entitled The status of our work in the desert:

No More Deaths has not stopped any of our humanitarian-aid efforts. A recent news report stated that we have closed our aid station in Arivaca, Arizona and that those in need are being turned away. This is false: the aid station is open and volunteers continue to give care to anyone seeking help.

This news is a very pleasant surprise for me. My own blog on the closure was based on that news report from NPR, which said that the NMD desert aid camp “has decided to shut down operations for now.” Nothing from NMD (until now) contradicted that report, so I assumed it was true. I’m very glad to hear that, to paraphrase the famous quip attributed to Mark Twain, reports of the closure of the No More Deaths desert aid camp are greatly exaggerated.

So, the work goes on, and I’m very much looking forward to taking part in it. And speaking of that work, one more thing: To help keep the desert aid camp open, No More Deaths is asking people to sign a petition to the Border Patrol to change their enforcement policies and cease interference with humanitarian aid efforts. I don’t want to make a habit of putting action alerts on this blog, but since this one has a major impact on my own work, I hope you’ll indulge me. 🙂

“God grant that America will be true to her dream”

As the United States celebrates the Fourth of July (just another day here in southern Mexico!), I find myself reflecting on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. I love the way that King saw the deeper promise of those classic words of slave holder Thomas Jefferson from the Declaration of Independence. As King put it in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech:

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men [and women, I would add!], would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Continue reading ““God grant that America will be true to her dream””

No More Deaths desert aid camp closing down for now

I have some sad news to report: Because of the Border Patrol raid on June 15, the No More Deaths desert aid camp will be closed down for now. They will probably continue to use the camp as an distribution base to bring water and food out to aid stations on the desert trails, but the camp is no longer safe for migrants to enter. This means that No More Deaths will no longer be able to provide medical care—which means more people will suffer and die.

I don’t know what this will mean regarding my volunteering. I haven’t heard from them about that yet. Presumably they still need volunteers to distribute water and food on the trails. I’m not a doctor or EMT, so I wouldn’t be doing medical treatment anyway. I’ll keep everyone posted.