Ajo, AZ – Hours after the release of a report titled ‘Interference with Humanitarian Aid: Death and Disappearance on the US-Mexico Border‘, which exposes the US Border Patrol’s efforts to destroy water, food, and blankets left by humanitarian aid workers, agents arrested an aid provider and two others receiving aid near Ajo, Arizona on January 17, 2018.
The aid provider arrested by Border Patrol was Scott Warren, who since 2013 has been working with the organization No More Deaths to provide “direct humanitarian aid in an effort to end death and suffering along the US-Mexico border.”
Scott was released the next day after appearing in court. For now, he is being charged with a felony involving alien smuggling. The two other individuals arrested with Scott in a remote wilderness area near El Camino del Diablo (Devil’s Highway) remain in custody.
The report released hours before the three arrests was the second report in a series of three, titled ‘The Disappeared: How the US Border Enforcement Agencies are Fueling a Missing Person Crisis‘, created by No More Deaths/No Más Muertes and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos, “a grassroots organization that promotes the human and civil rights of all migrants regardless of their immigration status.”
Unicorn Riot spent some time in early 2017 following No More Deaths volunteers. During that time we witnessed slashed water bottles and destroyed food stocks that aid workers had left along well-traveled migrant trails.
“On the crisis of death and disappearance of border crossers in the US Southwest borderlands,” ‘The Disappeared’ report details the “intentional destruction of over 3,000 gallons of water left out for border crossers, implicating the US Border Patrol in the majority of this destruction.”
Scott’s arrest was not the first time authorities have targeted humanitarian aid groups, No More Deaths camp and workers or even Scott them-self. Border Patrol raided the No More Deaths camp twice in one week during the summer of 2017 and arrested four people receiving emergency medical care inside the camp.
The introduction to ‘The Disappeared’ report (PDF) reads,
“This report [The Disappeared] calls attention to a significant albeit underreported outcome of contemporary US borderpolicing strategy and practice: the disappearance of tens of thousands of migrants and refugees in the expansive wilderness north of the US–Mexico border. This process of disappearance is related to the much more thoroughly researched and reported deaths of thousands of border crossers since the 1994 launch of the US Border Patrol’s strategy of ‘Prevention Through Deterrence’” – Disappeared — Introduction
Part I (PDF) of the report “investigates the US Border Patrol’s deadly apprehension methods in wilderness areas” and finds “that the Border Patrol routinely chases border crossers into remote terrain causing them to scatter, become lost, and often die or disappear.”
Part II (PDF) details how “water drops”, water left by humanitarian aid groups in remote areas for border crossers, have routinely been destroyed by Border Patrol agents. It draws the correlation between the Border Patrol’s actions of destruction to its systemic policy of “Prevention Through Deterrence” which forces migrants unable to pay to cross via safer methods, into remote desert areas where many lose their lives.
One of the volunteers we spoke to last year from the No More Deaths camp said,
“We have a lot of footage of Border Patrol agents and unsympathetic locals destroying water drops. Often it’s Border Patrol. There have been remains found near water drops. We see this all the time.“
In Part II of ‘The Disappeared’ it was noted that “at least 3,586 gallon jugs of water were destroyed in an approximately 800-square mile desert corridor near Arivaca, Arizona“, from 2012-2015.
Humanitarian aid organizations like No More Deaths continue their work along the US-Mexico border regions documenting lives lost to the policies that push people to the remote desert and providing what aid they can to save lives. The Border Patrol’s well-documented interference with humanitarian aid has been exposed, while threats of ICE raids continue to increase. It’s uncertain what the future holds for the United States’ borderlands, but the clash between human rights and nation-state borders continues.
See ‘The Disappeared’ published reports below.
‘Introduction: A Crisis of Disappearance’:disappeared--introduction
‘Part 1: Deadly Apprehension Methods: The Consequences of Chase and Scatter in the Wilderness’:disappeared_part_1
‘Part 2: Interference with Humanitarian Aid: Death and Disappearance on the US-Mexico Border’:disappeared_report_part_2