• Immigration Checks Used In Schools To De-Prioritise Children Of Undocumented Migrants

    Children in a line, outside the classroom door with their passport in hand, waiting one by one to be checked and let in. Teachers checking pupils’ passports, one by one, wondering when the right to free education started being determined by nationality and place of birth.

    This is not the start to a dystopian novel. This was the original vision of the Home Secretary in 2015, as revealed in leaked cabinet letters, for teachers to conduct immigration checks in the classroom.

    As part of the #hostile_environment master plan, immigration checks in schools were to be deployed to de-prioritise the children of undocumented migrants for school places.

    As this first plan didn’t gain sufficient consensus, the government folded and opted for a simpler and less ‘in the open’ option: collecting pupils’ nationality and country of birth data via the school census.

    https://rightsinfo.org/immigration-checks-in-schools-deployed-to-de-prioritise-children-of-undo
    #écoles #frontières_mobiles #migrations #enfants #enfance #sans-papiers #contrôles_frontaliers #UK #Angleterre #it_has_begun #nationalité


  • #Briançon, capitale des #escartons (1343-1789)

    Signée en 1343, la « #Grande_Charte_des_Libertés » entérinait l’#autonomie du territoire des Escartons, entre #Piémont et #Briançonnais. 675 ans avant que des militants n’y accueillent des migrants, ces vallées transalpines défendaient déjà une organisation basée sur l’#entraide et la #solidarité.

    https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/la-fabrique-de-lhistoire/une-histoire-des-micro-etats-44-briancon-capitale-des-escartons-1343-1
    #Les_Escartons #histoire #Hautes-Alpes #république_des_Escartons #élevage #commerce #passage #alphabétisme #alpage #biens_communs #communaux #communauté #forêt #propriété_collective #corvées #entretien_du_territoire #solidarité #escarton #répartition_des_impôts #Italie #France #périphérie #Dauphiné #Royaume_de_France #liberté #impôts #monnaie #justice #Traité_d'Utrecht #frontières #ligne_de_partage_des_eaux #frontières_nationales #frontières_nationales #rencontre #nostalgie

    Anne-Marie Granet-Abisset, minute 30’35 :

    « 1713 est une date capitale pour le fonctionnement de l’Escarton, parce que c’est une décision liée à un traité qui est prise très loin, à Utrecht, et qui va décider de ce qui apparaît comme une zone de périphérie, une zone des marges, et donc, dans les négociations, la France ce qui lui paraît important, c’est la #vallée_de_Barcelonnette, et laisse au Duc de Savoie, ce qu’on va appelé les #vallées_cédées, c’est-à-dire l’escarton de Valcluse, Pragelato, l’#escarton_de_Château-Dauphin, et l’#escarton_de_Oulx. C’est le début de ce qui va être une évolution qui démarre au 18ème, mais qui va s’accentuer au 19ème, où la frontière va se marquer. ça va casser ce qui faisait la force d’un territoire qui fonctionnait de façon presque autonome, en tout cas qui fonctionnait dans une organisation, ce qui ne veut pas dire qu’ils s’aimaient tous, mais en tout cas ils s’entendaient tous pour défendre leurs intérêts. C’est aussi le moment où les militaires arrivent et vont redessiner la frontière : on partage, on dessine, on installe des fortifications en un temps où la frontière va se marquer. »

    Colette Colomban :

    "Puisqu’on va pour la première fois, en Europe, penser les frontières à partir de limites géographiques. Donc on va placer la frontière sur la ligne de partage des eaux, ce qui correspond à la volonté du #Pré_Carré_de_Vauban, c’est-à-dire, délimiter le territoire, les frontières de la France, de façon la plus régulière possible afin qu’elle soit plus facile à défendre et éviter ainsi des bouts de territoires qui s’enfoncent trop en territoire ennemi et beaucoup plus difficiles à défendre. On va du coup border des frontières à des cours d’eau, à des limites de partage des eaux. Les cols qui jusqu’alors étaient vraiment des passages, là deviennent des portes, des fermetures, des frontières. Mongenèvre se ferme à ce moment-là. Il faut imaginer que ça a été vraiment vécu comme un traumatisme, ce traité d’Utrecht, avec vraiment une #coupure de #liens familiaux, de liens amicaux, de liens commerciaux.

    Anne-Marie Granet-Abisset, minute 39’35 :

    Il y a une redécouverte des Escartons, parce que la charte est revenue dans la mairie de Briançon en 1985. Et dans ce cadre-là, les Escartons ont servi de légitimité pour refonder à la fois une #mémoire et une histoire qui a commencé d’abord du point de vue patrimonial, on a mis une association sur les anciens escartons, et puis maintenant, d’or en avant, les escartons sont même les noms de la recréation du Grand briançonnais qui reprend le Queyra, le Briançonnais, mais qui adhèrent des territoires qui ne faisaient pas partie de des anciens escartons. On est en train de reconstituer, en utilisant ce qui a été une avance sur l’histoire... on re-fabrique, on re-bricole une histoire en mettant en avant ce qui était la tradition, c’est-à-dire l’habitude d’#autonomie, la façon de s’auto-administrer, la volonté de garder la maîtrise du territoire, en même temps avec véritablement l’idée de fonctionner avec les vallées qui étaient les anciennes Vallées cédées. Donc les Escartons vont devenir un élément qui caractérise et qui redonne une #fierté à ces territoires considérés, pendant longtemps et notamment au 19ème, comme des territoires enclavés, comme des territoires arcaïques. Ces territoires ont souffert de cette vision qu’ils ont d’ailleurs totalement intégrée et qui fait que, les Escartons étaient un moyen de réaffirmer leur avance sur l’histoire. Leur avance sur l’histoire c’est le fait de constituer un territoire transfrontalier, qui fonctionne comme une région des Alpes à l’intérieur d’une Europe qui serait une Europe des régions"

    Gérard Fromm, 46’20 :

    "Ici on a été une zone de passage, beaucoup d’Italiens sont venus, ont passé le col de Mongenèvre et sont venus s’installer en France à une période où la vie était difficile en Italie. Donc il y a beaucoup de familles qui sont d’origine italienne. On est ici une zone de passage depuis longtemps. On est une zone de migration, donc, naturellement, on a retrouvé un certain nombre de choses. Les Italiens de l’autre côté, beaucoup parlent français, et puis il y a une culture qui est identique : regardez les églises, les clochers ont la même forme, les peintures murales dans les églises ont les mêmes origines. On a vraiment une continuité. Ces éléments-là font qu’aujourd’hui on a d’ailleurs une proximité avec nos amis italiens. On ne se rend pas compte, on est un peu au bout du monde pour les Français, sauf que leur bout du monde il est beaucoup plus loin... les Italiens c’est la porte à côté. Des Briançonnais vont à Turin, Turin c’est à une heure et quart d’ici. Aujourd’hui on a d’ailleurs une proximité avec nos amis italiens dans le cadre des programmes européens, mais aujourd’hui aussi par exemple avec les problèmes des migrants, ce sont des problèmes qu’on partage avec les communes de l’autre côté. On travaille en permanence avec les Italiens.

    Elsa Giraud, guide conférencière et historienne, 49’13 :

    « C’est le milieu dans lequel on vit, qui peut être un milieu hostile, qui est un milieu qui nécessite des connaissances, une habitude. Et si les Escartons sont nés et ont perduré pendant des siècles, c’est parce que nous sommes dans un territoire de passage, parce que nous sommes dans un territoire où on a des populations et des ressources différentes d’un côté et de l’autre. Donc il fallait des passages, des migrations saisonnières pour vivre dans ces montagnes qui ne vous nourrissent pas l’hiver, pour aller en plaine, pour échanger les produits d’un versant et de l’autre de la montagne. Et le point commun c’est ce besoin de se déplacer, de migrer. La géographie et le climat font qu’on est obligé de s’entraider et venir au secours de celui qui est en pleine montagne. Ici, si on ne connaît pas la montagne, en plein hiver on ne passe pas, on y reste. »

    #hostile_environment #environnement_hostile #entraide

    #tur_tur

    #ressources_pédagogiques


  • Breaking: #Canada Announces That Its Border Wall Is Already Finished | The Inertia
    https://www.theinertia.com/comedy/canada-announces-border-wall-finished

    In incredible news out of Canada, officials have happily announced that the country easily finished its own border wall in the past 21 days while everyone was distracted by the U.S. government shutdown. And it was a simple solution: one of the snowiest countries in the world used its overabundance of frozen water to create a border wall spanning nearly 4,000 miles from the shores of British Columbia in the west to New Brunswick in the east. The purpose? Keep weed-puffing, hard-drinking Americans seeking better times out of the country.

    “For years, Americans have crossed our borders to bypass repressive laws and governments in their own country, simply to have a better time, be it the drinking age limit or, more recently, to smoke weed legally,” announced Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Well, those benefits are for our citizens.”

    #mur #etats-unis

    Editor’s Note: If you didn’t figure out this was #satire within the first few sentences, shoot us a note and we’ll send someone to hit you over the head with a frying pan immediately.


  • The UK Border Regime

    Throughout history, human beings have migrated. To escape war, oppression and poverty, to make a better life, to follow their own dreams. But since the start of the 20th century, modern governments have found ever more vicious ways to stop people moving freely.

    The UK border regime includes the razor wire fences at #Calais, the limbo of the asylum system, and the open #violence of raids and deportations. Alongside the #Home_Office, it includes the companies running databases and detention centres, the media pushing hate speech, and the politicians posturing to win votes. It keeps on escalating, through Tony Blair’s war on refugees to Theresa May’s “#hostile_environment”, spreading fear and division.

    This book describes and analyses the UK’s system of immigration controls. It looks at how it has developed through recent history, the different actors involved, and how people resist. The aim is to help understand the border regime, and ask how we can fight it effectively.


    https://corporatewatch.org/new-book-the-uk-border-regime
    #livre #frontières #régime_frontalier #UK #Angleterre #limbe #barrières_frontalières #externalisation #France #renvois #expulsions #déportations #résistance #migrations #asile #réfugiés #détention_administrative #rétention #privatisation

    • France – Royaume-Uni : le plan d’action de lutte

      L’externalisation du contrôle de la frontière britannique sur le sol français est jalonnée de traités, arrangements, accords, déclarations conjointes. Dans la novlangue du nouveau monde, nous avons le « plan d’action de lutte contre l’activité des migrants dans la Manche ». Avec un nouveau chèque britannique.

      D’un côté de la Manche, le brexit qui prend l’eau. De l’autre un pouvoir ébranlé par la contestation des gilets jaunes. Entre les deux des exilé-e-s qui tentent de passer la frontière et d’accéder au territoire britannique.

      Les tentatives de passage de la frontière dans de petites embarcations ne sont pas nouvelles, mais étaient exceptionnelles, ou alors avec la complicité de plaisanciers ou de pêcheurs qui se faisaient de l’argent en faisant passer des exilé-e-s. Il y avait eu en 2016 plusieurs tentatives du département de la Manche vers les îles anglo-normandes (voir ici et là), et rarement du littoral du Nord et du Pas-de-Calais. Ce sont souvent des exilé-e-s iranien-ne-s qui sont impliqué-e-s dans ces tentatives.

      Depuis un an, elles se multiplient - le "plan d’action de lutte" mentionne 44 départ évités du côté français (ce qui ne comprend pas a priori les bateaux interceptés en mer) concernant 267 "individus". Elles rencontrent un certain écho médiatique, surtout au Royaume-Uni. Les gouvernements doivent donc montrer qu’ils font quelque chose. Et comme le phénomène dure déjà un peu, qu’ils ont aussi déjà fait quelque chose. Et puis c’est l’occasion de montrer que brexit ou pas la coopération sécuritaire entre les deux pays continue - contre "une menace à l’encontre des systèmes de contrôle aux frontières en France et au Royaume-Uni, dont l’intégrité est indispensable à la lutte contre la criminalité et le terrorisme" dit le texte - la doctrine est donc qu’il faut fermer les frontières de manière étanche pour se protéger.

      Mais sous le titre hyperbolique de "plan d’action de lutte" il n’y a à vrai dire pas grand-chose. Les patrouilles maritimes et aériennes, et terrestres du côté français, ont déjà été renforcées. Les mesures activées dans les accords précédents, qui eux-mêmes reprenaient largement des mesures plus anciennes, sont actives. Un financement de 7 millions d’euros est annoncé, mais près de la moitié provient d’un fonds déjà existant, la partie britannique n’apporte en fait que 3,6 millions supplémentaires. Une partie indéterminée de cet argent ira à un secteur économique qui vit sous perfusion d’agent public : la vidéosurveillance. Des caméras seront installées dans les ports et sur les plages.

      https://blogs.mediapart.fr/philippe-wannesson/blog/250119/france-royaume-uni-le-plan-d-action-de-lutte


  • University lecturers must remain educators, not border guards

    The increasingly stringent control of student migration by the Home Office is damaging both the integrity of our relationships as teachers with students and the future of our universities. It was for this reason that 160 academics signed a letter published in The Guardian against the ways in which this crackdown corrodes relationships of trust that are essential to learning.

    https://theconversation.com/university-lecturers-must-remain-educators-not-border-guards-23948

    #home_office #frontières #frontières_mobiles #université #UK #Angleterre #gardes_frontières (#flexibilisation_introvertie, pour utiliser un concept de Paolo Cuttitta)

    Article de 2014, mais qui reste de très forte actualité !

    • UK academics oppose visa monitoring regime for foreign staff

      UK academics oppose visa monitoring regime for foreign staff
      UK university leaders are being urged to review their attitudes towards foreign staff and students, following fresh reports of visa holders being “unfairly monitored” and even threatened with home visits by nervous administrators.

      Institutions say that efforts to record the whereabouts of international employees and students on sponsored visas are necessary to comply with Home Office regulations, but union representatives argue that the requirements are being misinterpreted and create a “hostile environment” for foreign workers.
      One foreign academic employed by the University of Birmingham told Times Higher Education that they had become “confused and scared” after being told that they must report their attendance weekly or “risk deportation”.

      “I feel like I am not trusted, that I can’t do my job, that I’m assumed [to be] a criminal,” said the academic, who chose to remain anonymous. “Being constantly monitored in this way makes me feel like I don’t really want to be here…if I had an opportunity somewhere else I would consider leaving the UK.”

      A letter issued by Birmingham’s human resources department to international staff and seen by THE states that any individual who fails to report their attendance as well as any time spent off campus on a weekly basis will have their “name passed to the UK Border Agency”.

      Failure to comply may result in “disciplinary action and/or withdrawal of your certificate of sponsorship, and thereby your eligibility to remain in the UK”.

      Birmingham had to operate “within the requirements set out by the Home Office”, a university spokesman said. “Our priority is ensuring that we are supporting staff to remain in the UK.”

      Meanwhile, staff at the University of Sussex launched a petition last week calling on vice-chancellor Adam Tickell to “end the hostile environment” found towards “migrants, people of colour and Muslims” on campus, which they said had been made worse as a result of “immigration monitoring”.

      The Sussex branch of the University and College Union said that managers at the institution had chosen to interpret Home Office guidelines in a needlessly stringent manner. “Staff and students are made aware that if they are not able to attest to their whereabouts for 80 per cent of the semester, they risk having their [immigration] status withdrawn,” a spokesman said. “This is not necessary."

      Those on Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas were at one stage told to “expect home visits” if they chose to work out of the office, but the university has since admitted that this approach is “not feasible”, the UCU spokesman added.

      An email sent from one head of department on 10 April informs Sussex staff they must have “complete records of their movements at any given time” recorded via “electronic calendars, so if auditors turn up at any given time we can point to it”.

      “I found this procedure extraordinary,” said one academic, “and I am sure there would be revolt if this were imposed on everyone in the department.”

      A University of Sussex spokeswoman said that Professor Tickell was aware of the petition, and had “already clarified with members of our community why and how the university needs to comply with statutory regulations”.

      “Our policies and procedures are informed by UK and EU legislation, statutory regulations and duties and best practice,” she added.

      Separately, staff at UCL have written to the institution’s president, Michael Arthur, expressing “serious concerns” over rules that require staff to have “physical check-ins” with international students every three weeks in order to monitor visa compliance.

      The policy takes up staff time “in bureaucracy that is irrelevant”, “builds a culture of mistrust” and creates “added pressure...at a time when we have increasing evidence about risks to student wellbeing and mental health”, the letter says.

      A Home Office spokeswoman said it remained “the responsibility of individual sponsors to develop their own systems to ensure they meet their reporting responsibilities”.

      https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/uk-academics-oppose-visa-monitoring-regime-foreign-staff



  • UK banks to check 70m bank accounts in search for illegal immigrants

    Exclusive: From January banks will be enrolled in Theresa May’s plans to create ‘hostile environment’ for illegal migrants

    Exclusive: From January banks will be enrolled in Theresa May’s plans to create ‘#hostile_environment’ for illegal migrants

    https://amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/21/uk-banks-to-check-70m-bank-accounts-in-search-for-illegal-immigrant
    #it_has_begun #régression #migrations #sans-papiers #UK #surveillance #Angleterre #collaboration #police #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #politique_migratoire #environnement_hostile #persécution #harcèlement

    #frontières_mobiles? #mobile_borders

    Si d’autres personnes veulent bien m’aider avec des tags...

    cc @reka


  • The hostile environment: what is it and who does it affect?

    The “hostile environment” for migrants is a package of measures designed to make life so difficult for individuals without permission to remain that they will not seek to enter the UK to begin with or if already present will leave voluntarily. It is inextricably linked to the net migration target; the hostile environment is intended to reduce inward migration and increase outward emigration.

    The hostile environment includes measures to limit access to work, housing, health care, bank accounts and to reduce and restrict rights of appeal against Home Office decisions. The majority of these proposals became law via the Immigration Act 2014, and have since been tightened or expanded under the Immigration Act 2016.


    https://www.freemovement.org.uk/hostile-environment-affect

    #hostile_environment #environnement_hostile #migrations #UK #mythe #préjugés #asile #réfugiés #statistiques #chiffres #retours #renvois #expulsions #retours_volontaires #Angleterre #efficacité #dissuasion


    • The US government deliberately made the desert deadly for migrants

      The deaths of two Guatemalan child migrants in US custody highlights the perilousness of a journey that is no accident

      This month, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl, died less than 48 hours after being detained at a remote New Mexico border crossing. Felipe Gómez Alonzo, an eight-year old Guatemalan boy, spent his final days in custody before tragically passing on Christmas Eve. Both were brought to the United States by families seeking a better life for their children. In the United States, all they found was death.

      Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have been quick to deflect the blame. “[Jakelin’s] family chose to cross illegally,” Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asserted. In the case of Felipe, the DHS pointed to migrant shelters in Mexico as possible sources of disease. These desperate attempts do little to obscure the full weight of US culpability.

      When trying to make sense of these two tragic deaths – and while details are still emerging – one thing is clear: the journey they undertook is designed to be deadly. In the 1990s, then president Bill Clinton introduced Prevention Through Deterrence, a border security policy which closed off established migrant routes. This forced migrants like Jakelin and her father through more remote and trying terrain. Jakelin and Felipe would probably not have died had it not been for the extreme conditions that Prevention Through Deterrence forces migrants to withstand.
      Sign up to receive the latest US opinion pieces every weekday

      As the No More Deaths spokeswoman, Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler, notes: “Crossing from the US border in any location, there’s no physical way as a human being to carry the kind of water you’ll need to survive those conditions for three, four days of walking.” Those who survive the immediate journey still face significant health risks if they are not immediately granted medical treatment – at present, border patrol relies on self-assessment, and, as in Jakelin’s case, the documentation is often in a language they can’t read.

      Prevention Through Deterrence meant tremendous investments in surveillance and border militarization, with the aim of pushing migrants ever deeper into the unforgiving Sonoran desert. Though the border patrol denies accountability for deaths along the US-Mexico border, their very metrics for success under the policy include “fee increases by smugglers”, “possible increase in complaints”, and “more violence at attempted entries”. These children’s deaths were by no means unpredictable. Violence is built into the plan.

      Hundreds disappear each year, their remains too decomposed to be identified

      The immigrant advocacy group No More Deaths charges that the US border patrol uses the desert as a weapon. Armed with night-vision equipment, border patrol agents chase migrants blindly into hostile desert terrain. In the ensuing chaos, migrants fall to their deaths, or get hopelessly lost. Hundreds disappear each year, their remains too decomposed to be identified.

      Prevention Through Deterrence has done little to curb migration, but it has led to an explosion in needless suffering. As accessible routes are abandoned in favor of remote terrain, what was once a straightforward journey becomes life-threatening. In 1994, the year of the strategy’s inception, there were an estimated 14 deaths alongside the US-Mexico border. Last year, a staggering 412 deaths were documented in the region. As migrants are funnelled deeper into remote areas, they face not only the capricious desert terrain, but fatigue, dehydration and a host of heat-related ailments. Seizing on an influx of vulnerable, disoriented travellers, cartels lie in wait to extort and kidnap their next victims. Stories of rape along the migrant trail are so overwhelmingly common that many take contraceptives before the journey.

      Prevention Through Deterrence assumes that migrants will simply stop coming if the journey is difficult enough. But migration is as old as human history itself. While the US decries an explosion of immigrants, policymakers would do well to consider their role in perpetuating migration flows. From exploitative trade deals – Nafta put more than 1 million Mexican farmers out of work – to outright imperial aggression – see US-backed coups in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala and Honduras, among others – the US is a harbinger of death and destruction across the continent. To turn away those who flee the disastrous results of our policies is victim blaming of the most vile sort.

      US immigration officials have expressed regret at the passing of these children. Don’t take their word for it. Just last year, No More Deaths released video evidence of border patrol officials vandalizing water left for migrants. An unidentified agent grins at the camera while emptying water jugs, and others kick over bottles with glee. In the arid Sonoran desert, it is physically impossible to carry enough water to survive, a fact that is not lost on those who are employed to monitor the terrain day in and out. Within hours of the video’s release, a member of No More Deaths was arrested on charges of harboring immigrants. He will face 20 years in prison if convicted.

      A popular immigrant refrain asserts: “We are here because you were there.” US policies of economic extraction and militarism put children like Jakelin and Felipe at risk every single day. To put an end to deaths at the border, the US must stop penalizing those who flee its very own destruction.

      https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/29/the-us-government-deliberately-made-the-desert-deadly-for-migrants?


    • #border_angels

      Border Angels is an all volunteer, non profit organisation that advocates for human rights, humane immigration reform, and social justice with a special focus on issues related to issues related to the US-Mexican border. Border Angels engages in community education and awareness programs that include guided trips to the desert to place water along migrant crossing routes as well as to the border to learn about the history of US-Mexico border policy and experience the border fence firsthand.

      Border Angels also works to serve San Diego County’s immigrant population through various migrant outreach programs such as Day Laborer outreach and our free legal assistance program held in our office every Tuesday. Border Angels works to dispel the various myths surrounding immigration in the United States and to bring back truth and justice.

      http://www.borderangels.org
      #solidarité #anges

    • Water in the desert. Inside the effort to prevent migrant deaths at the US-Mexico border

      “I had no idea how many people had died. I had no idea the extent of the humanitarian crisis.”

      In the lead-up to the US midterm elections, President Donald Trump has stoked fears about undocumented immigration. After repeatedly saying that immigrants from Latin America are criminals and peddling baseless claims that unidentified people from the Middle East are part of a “caravan of migrants” making its way north from Honduras, Trump ordered the deployment of more than 5,000 soldiers to the southern US border.

      Decades of acrimonious public debate over undocumented immigration in the United States has focused on security, crime, and economics while largely overlooking the people at the centre of the issue and the consequences of US attempts to prevent them from entering the country.

      One of the starkest facts about this humanitarian emergency is that at least 6,700 bodies have been found since 2000 – likely only a fraction of the actual number of people who have died trying to cross the southern US border over this period. More than a third of these bodies have been found in the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona, where migration routes have been pushed into increasingly harsh and remote terrain.

      Seldom reported and virtually unheard of outside the border region, these bodies have become a cause for a small constellation of humanitarian groups in southern Arizona, spawning an unlikely effort to prevent deaths by placing drinking water along migration trails in the desert.

      “I found it shocking,” Brian Best, a volunteer who moved to Arizona a couple years ago, says of the situation in the desert. “I had no idea how many people had died. I had no idea the extent of the humanitarian crisis.”

      Trying to save lives in this way is not uncontroversial. Undocumented immigration is one of the most polarising issues in US politics and aid groups operate in the same areas that cartels use to smuggle drugs into the country. Inevitably, humanitarian efforts are caught up in the politics and paranoia surrounding these two issues.

      The intensity of the situation has led to a strained relationship between the humanitarians and the Border Patrol, the federal agency tasked with preventing undocumented immigration. Nearly two decades after aid efforts began, the numbers crossing the border have reached a historic low but the proportion of people dying is rising.

      Early on a Friday morning, Stephen Saltonstall, 74, sits behind the steering wheel of a flatbed pickup as it shakes and rattles towards the US-Mexico border. The back of the truck is loaded with equipment: a 300-gallon plastic tank of drinking water, a gas operated pump to pull the water out, and a long, lead-free hose to deliver it into barrels at the water stations Humane Borders, the NGO Saltonstall volunteers with, maintains across southern Arizona.

      It’s mid-September and the temperature is already climbing. By midday it will reach well over 100 degrees (38 celsius), and there are no clouds to interrupt the sun as it bakes the hardscrabble landscape of the Sonoran Desert, surprisingly green from the recently departed monsoon rains. Scraggly mesquite trees and saguaro cactuses with comically tubular arms whir past as Saltonstall guides the truck along Route 286 southwest of Tucson. A veteran of the civil rights movement with a lifelong commitment to social justice – like many others involved in the humanitarian aid effort here – he has made this drive more than 150 times in the three years since moving to Arizona from the northeastern United States.

      Around mile marker 38 – signifying 38 miles north of the border – 13 miles north of an inland US Border Patrol checkpoint, Saltonstall eases the truck off to the side of the road. Stepping out, he walks to the top of a small hill about 10 feet from where the asphalt ends. Stopping next to a small wooden cross planted in the cracked earth, he puts his hands together and offers a silent prayer.

      “I’m sorry that you died an awful death here,” Saltonstall says when he’s finished praying. “Wherever you are now, I hope you are in a better place.”

      The cross is painted red and draped with a strand of rosary beads. It marks the spot – on top of this small hill, in plain sight of the road – where the body of someone who irregularly crossed the border into the United States was found in July 2017. The person likely succumbed to thirst or hyperthermia after spending days trekking through this harsh, remote environment. But no one knows for sure. By the time someone came across the remains, scavenging birds and animals had stripped the body down to a skeleton. There’s no official cause of death and the person’s identity is unknown.

      Nearly 3,000 human remains like this one have been found in southern Arizona since the year 2000. Many more are probably lost in this vast and sparsely populated desert, lying in areas too remote and infrequently trafficked to be discovered before they decompose and end up being carried off in pieces by feasting animals, scattered and rendered invisible.

      Prevention through deterrence

      It wasn’t always like this in southern Arizona.

      The office of Pima County medical examiner Dr. Greg Hess receives all the human remains found near the migration trails in three of the four Arizonan counties that border Mexico.

      “In the 1990s we would average about 15 of these types of remains being recovered every year,” says Hess. Starting in 2002, that average jumped to 160 bodies per year, he adds.

      Most people irregularly crossing the border used to simply sneak over in urban areas where it wasn’t too dangerous. But things started to change in the mid 1990s with the introduction of a federal policy called “prevention through deterrence”. The policy directed Border Patrol to concentrate agents and resources in the urban areas where most people were crossing. The architects of the strategy predicted that “illegal traffic will be deterred, or forced over more hostile terrain, less suited for crossing and more suited for enforcement.”

      The construction of border walls between urban areas in northern Mexico and their neighbouring towns and cities in the United States soon followed. That funnelled the movement of migrants decisively into remote areas like the desert in southern Arizona, but had no discernible impact on the number of people irregularly entering the United States.

      Corlata Wray, 62, watched in the early 2000s as federal policy brought a humanitarian crisis to her back yard. Born in Durango, Mexico, Wray has lived in the small, rural town of Arivaca, Arizona, 12 miles from the border, for the better part of four decades. A slow trickle of people has always moved through Arivaca given its location, but in the late 1990s the number of people trekking across the desert close to Wray’s home dramatically increased.

      In the early years people would knock on the door and Wray would give them water and a little bit of food before they continued on their way. Helping migrants in this way was a normal part of life, according to many people IRIN spoke to living in the border region. But as enforcement efforts ramped up, “everything changed”, says Wray, who now volunteers regularly with organisations providing aid and support to migrants. “I started to see more suffering with the migrants.”

      Now the people who end up on her property are usually in a desperate situation – parched and sunburnt, with bloodied and blistered feet and twisted or broken limbs. “They don’t know which way to go, and that’s when their life is in danger because they’re lost. They have no water. They have no food. And then the desert is not beautiful anymore. Es mortal,” Wray says, switching into Spanish – “It’s deadly”.
      “We have to do something”

      As the “prevention through deterrence” policy came into full effect in the early 2000s, the fact that migrants were dying in the desert at an alarming rate was hard for some people to overlook. Ila Abernathy, a long-time resident of Tucson, 65 miles north of the border, remembers a point in July 2002 when a dozen or more bodies were found in one weekend.

      Fifty-nine at the time, Abernathy had moved to Tucson as a young adult and had been active in the waning years of the sanctuary movement, which sought to provide safe-haven to refugees fleeing civil wars in Central America in the 1980s as the US government restricted their ability to seek asylum. A decade and half later, the network from that movement was still intact.

      Following the news of the deaths in July 2002, a meeting was called at the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson. “This is a new crisis. We have to do something,” Abernathy recalls of the meeting’s conclusion. “We need to advocate and we need to get out there and search for people before they die.”

      In the beginning, that meant giving aid to people directly. Between 2002 and 2008, Border Patrol apprehended between 300,000 and 500,000 people every year in the area south of Tucson. “You’d just drive down the road early in the morning and there would be clusters of people either ready to give up or else already in Border Patrol capture,” Abernathy says.

      The group that formed out of the meeting at the Southside Presbyterian Church, the Tucson Samaritans, travelled the roads providing food, water, and medical aid to people in need. Two other groups, Humane Borders and No More Deaths, formed around the same time with similar missions. Their members tended to be active in multiple groups at the same time and were often veterans of the sanctuary or civil rights movements, like Abernathy and Saltonstall. Others were young people who came to the region on educational trips and decided to stay, or longtime residents of southern Arizona who had watched the crisis develop and felt compelled to try to help.

      But their work soon got harder. In 2006, the administration of US president George W. Bush announced a massive expansion of the Border Patrol. With nearly double the number of agents in the field and more resources, it became increasingly rare to find migrants along the roads, or even close to them, according to Abernathy. Unable to deliver aid to people directly, groups started hiking into the remote desert to find the trails migrants were using and leave behind gallon jugs of drinking water in the hope they would be found by people in need. It’s an effort that has continued now for close to 12 years.
      Into the desert

      On a Sunday morning, Best, 59, is picking his way along a migration trail deep in the Sonoran Desert with two other volunteers from the Tucson Samaritans. If you could travel in a straight line, the nearest paved road would be about 10 miles away. But moving in a straight line isn’t an option out here.

      Best and the other volunteers left their four wheel drive SUV behind some time ago after following the winding, rocky roads as far as they could. They are now hiking on foot towards the US-Mexico border. The landscape doesn’t distinguish between the two countries. In every direction, cactuses and mesquite trees carpet low, jagged hills. At the far limits of the vast, open expanse, towering mountains run like rows of crooked shark’s teeth along the horizon.

      This is the “hostile terrain” referred to by the architects of “prevention through deterrence” where migration routes have been pushed. There’s no man-made wall at the border here – just a rusted barbed wire fence. But someone would have to hike about 30 miles to make it north of the inland Border Patrol checkpoint on Route 286 to reach a potential pick-up point, or 60 miles to make it to Tucson. Humanitarian aid volunteers say the trip usually takes from three to 10 days.

      In the summertime the temperature reaches 120 degrees (49 celsius) and in the winter it drops low enough for people to die of hypothermia. There are 17 species of rattlesnakes in this desert, which is also home to the venomous gila monster lizard, tarantulas, scorpions, and other potentially dangerous animals. Natural water sources are few and far between, Border Patrol agents traverse the area in all-terrain vehicles and pickup trucks, on horseback and in helicopters; and there’s surveillance equipment laced throughout the landscape. “I’m really surprised that anybody gets through,” says one humanitarian volunteer, “but they do.”

      On the trail where Best is walking, the ground is uneven and rocks jut out at menacing angles. It’s easy to twist an ankle and impossible to move forward without getting scraped by mesquite branches or poked by cactus spines.

      Best has been visiting this area of the desert for a little over a year. In the beginning, there were a lot of signs that migrants were passing through – black plastic water bottles from Mexico, food wrappers with recent expiration dates, even discarded backpacks and clothing – so the Samaritans started putting jugs of water here hoping it would help fortify people against the dangers of the long journey ahead. But recently the jugs have been sitting untouched. It looks like the route has shifted elsewhere.

      During the second half of the morning Best will explore new territory – literally bushwhacking through the desert – to try to figure out where the route has moved to and where water should be placed. More than a decade after humanitarian aid groups started hiking out into the desert, there are still plenty of places they have yet to set foot in. Figuring out where people are moving and then putting out water is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process of trial and error. “It is very slow and inefficient in some ways, but I think really important,” Best says. “There’s no other way to do it.”

      In the 12 years since they started, over the course of innumerable hikes like this one, the Samaritans have mapped somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 miles of trails south of Tucson, according to volunteers. Two different groups go out every day, bringing water to hundreds of locations over the course of any given week. In total in the past two years, according to one volunteer, the group has placed 3,295 gallon jugs of water in the desert. No More Deaths, which also relies on volunteers to hike water into the desert, says it has put out 31,558 gallons in past three years, 86 percent of which was used.

      Humane Borders, the organisation that Saltonstall volunteers with, operates using a slightly different model. It maintains fixed water stations at 51 locations on public and private land in southern Arizona that it services by truck. Each station consists of a 55-gallon barrel with a blue flag flying high in the sky to mark its location. Last year the group put 70,000 gallons of water into these stations. Between the three groups, comprised of a couple hundred active volunteers, that’s equivalent to about 10 backyard swimming pools full of water placed along migration trails in the desert, one bottle or barrel at a time.
      Not so straightforward

      The terrain where the humanitarian aid groups put water is some of the most politically charged in the US, at the heart of debates about both undocumented immigration and the movement of illicit drugs into the country. Needless to say, not everybody supports what the groups are doing.

      Cartels have a strong presence in the towns and cities of northern Mexico, and control and profit from the movement of both people and drugs across the border. Critics of the humanitarian groups say they are helping people break the law both by assisting migrants who are irregularly entering the United States and by putting water out that cartel drug runners and scouts can drink just as easily as anyone else.

      Humane Borders receives public funding from the Board of Supervisors in Pima County, but the vote to approve the funding is split: three Democratic members in favour and two Republican members against. Both Republican supervisors declined to comment when IRIN asked about their opposition to the funding – a spokesperson for one said the vote “speaks for itself.”

      The relationship between the humanitarian aid groups and Border Patrol has also been rocky. In particular, No More Deaths has been openly critical of Border Patrol, documenting agents destroying water drops and arguing that the agency’s tactics are contributing to deaths and disappearances in the desert. Border Patrol says it doesn’t condone the destruction of humanitarian aid drops and that it ultimately views its work as humanitarian as well.

      Nine members of No More Deaths have also been arrested on various charges related to their humanitarian work, ranging from trespassing and littering to harbouring illegal aliens, in what volunteers see as an effort to criminalise aid activities in the desert. One of those arrested faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, and the Intercept has reported that court documents and other evidence suggest some of the arrests were retaliation against No More Deaths for publicising Border Patrol abuses.

      As far as whether water drops are benefitting cartel members or helping people break the law, the questions aren’t really important to many volunteers. “The real basic, humane argument is that nobody should be dying out here,” Best, the Samaritans volunteer, says.

      A more important question is whether the water drops are effective at saving lives. There’s anecdotal evidence from migrants who are caught by Border Patrol and later deported to northern Mexico that it is reaching people in need, but there’s no way to tell how many.

      There’s also the fact that, even as the number of people crossing the desert south of Tucson has decreased, the number of bodies found has remained relatively consistent. Also, not every death in the desert is caused by dehydration. “If somebody has heat stroke it may not be a process of having water available,” explains Hess, the medical examiner. “They may have water with them. It’s just that you’re too hot.”
      “What value can you put on saving even one life?”

      Considering that Border Patrol apprehended an average of over 100 people per day south of Tucson last year, and that an untold number of others crossed without being caught, and that the water isn’t necessarily in all of the places where people are trekking, the volunteers are aware of the limits of what they do. One estimated that over the course of an eight- to 10-hour hike a group of four people could only put enough water out to sustain 15 migrants for one day.

      “What we do is small, and we know it does some good,” Abernathy says. “We don’t want to delude ourselves into thinking this is the solution… [But] what value can you put on saving even one life?”

      Short of a major change to the “prevention through deterrence” policy, many don’t see an alternative to what they are doing. And humanitarian aid efforts have expanded over the years westward from the area south of Tucson to even more remote and sparsely populated parts of the desert where people have to walk 85 to 100 miles through nearly empty wilderness before reaching a point where they can be picked up.

      The old copper mining town of Ajo, Arizona – home to around 3,000 people – is in the heart of one of these far flung, desolate places. One hundred and thirty miles west of Tucson, this outpost of old clapboard and adobe houses is bordered by a national park, wildlife refuge, and US Air Force bombing range that combined constitute a relatively uninhabited and untouched area of desert the size of the state of Connecticut.

      On a warm dry night, volunteers from various humanitarian aid groups are gathered here in the town square, under the light of dim street lamps and a nearly full moon, to pay homage to what binds their community together: the people who have died in the desert.

      Some of the volunteers will wake at 4:45am to try to avoid the heat as best they can and hike out along the trails carrying their gallon jugs of water. But tonight at this vigil they form a line and one by one pick up white wooden crosses, holding them in front of their bodies. Each one represents the remains of a person that were found in the area surrounding Ajo in 2017 and is inscribed with a name or the word desconocido – Spanish for “unknown”. There are about 30 volunteers, and they have to pass through the line more than once. There are more crosses than people to hold them.

      https://www.irinnews.org/news-feature/2018/11/06/migrants-US-Mexico-caravan-elections-Trump-water-desert
      #eau #résistance #désert #frontières #mourir_aux_frontières #hostile_environment

    • Four women found guilty after leaving food and water for migrants in Arizona desert

      A federal judge on Friday reportedly found four women guilty of misdemeanors after they illegally entered a national wildlife refuge along the U.S.-Mexico border to leave water and food for migrants.

      According to The Arizona Republic, the four women were aid volunteers for No More Deaths, an advocacy group dedicated to ending the deaths of migrants crossing desert regions near the southern border.

      One of the volunteers with the group, Natalie Hoffman, was found guilty of three charges against her, including operating a vehicle inside the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, entering a federally protected wilderness area without a permit and leaving behind gallons on water and bean cans.

      The charges reportedly stemmed from an August 2017 encounter with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife officer at the wildlife refuge.

      The three other co-defendants — Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick — were reportedly passengers in Hoffman’s truck at the time and were also charged with entering federally protected area without a permit and leaving behind personal property.

      Each of the women face up to six months in prison for the charges and a $500 fine after being found guilty.

      In his three-page order, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco reportedly wrote that the defendants did not “get an access permit, they did not remain on the designated roads, and they left water, food, and crates in the Refuge."

      “All of this, in addition to violating the law, erodes the national decision to maintain the Refuge in its pristine nature,” he continued.

      He also criticized the No More Deaths group for failing to adequately warn the women of all of the possible consequences they faced for violating the protected area’s regulations, saying in his decision that “no one in charge of No More Deaths ever informed them that their conduct could be prosecuted as a criminal offense nor did any of the Defendants make any independent inquiry into the legality or consequences of their activities.”

      Another volunteer with No More Deaths, Catherine Gaffney, slammed Velasco’s ruling in a statement to The Arizona Republic.

      “This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country,” Gaffney said.

      “If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?” she continued.

      According to The Associated Press, the ruling marks the first conviction brought against humanitarian aid volunteers in 10 years.


      https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/426185-four-women-found-guilty-after-leaving-food-and-water-for
      #délit_de_solidarité #solidarité
      signalé par @fil

    • Arizona: Four women convicted after leaving food and water in desert for migrants

      Federal judge finds activists guilty of entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit to give aid to migrants


      A federal judge has found four women guilty of entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit as they sought to place food and water in the Arizona desert for migrants.

      US magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco’s ruling on Friday marked the first conviction against humanitarian aid volunteers in a decade.

      The four found guilty of misdemeanours in the recent case were volunteers for No More Deaths, which said in a statement the group had been providing life-saving aid to migrants.

      The volunteers include Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick.

      Hoffman was found guilty of operating a vehicle inside Cabeza Prieta national wildlife refuge, entering the federally protected area without a permit, and leaving water jugs and cans of beans there in August 2017.

      The others were found guilty of entering without a permit and leaving behind personal property.

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/19/arizona-four-women-convicted-after-leaving-food-and-water-in-desert-for

    • Convicted for leaving water for migrants in the desert: This is Trump’s justice

      A FEW weeks ago, federal prosecutors in Arizona secured a conviction against four humanitarian aid workers who left water in the desert for migrants who might otherwise die of heat exposure and thirst. Separately, they dropped manslaughter charges against a U.S. Border Patrol agent who fired 16 times across the border, killing a teenage Mexican boy. The aid workers face a fine and up to six months in jail. The Border Patrol officer faces no further legal consequences.

      That is a snapshot of twisted frontier justice in the age of Trump. Save a migrant’s life, and you risk becoming a political prisoner. Kill a Mexican teenager, and you walk free.

      The four aid workers, all women, were volunteers in service to an organization, No More Deaths, whose religious views inform its mission to prevent undocumented migrants from dying during their perilous northward trek. They drove into the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, about 100 miles southwest of Phoenix, to leave water jugs along with some canned beans.

      The women — Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick — made no effort to conceal their work. Confronted by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer, they said they believed everyone deserved access to basic survival needs. One of them, Ms. Orozco-McCormick, compared the wildlife refuge to a graveyard, such is the ubiquity of human remains there.

      Since the turn of the century, more than 2,100 undocumented migrants have died in that sun-scorched region of southern Arizona, according to Humane Borders, a nonprofit group that keeps track of the numbers. Last year, according to the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office, the remains of 127 dead migrants were recovered there.

      In the past, prosecutors declined to press charges against the volunteers who try to help by leaving water and canned food in the desert. But the four women, arrested in August 2017, were tried for the misdemeanor offenses of entering a refuge without a permit, abandoning personal property and, in the case of Ms. Hoffman, driving in a restricted area. U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco, who presided over the bench trial, said their actions ran afoul of the “national decision to maintain the Reserve in its pristine nature.”

      In fact, prosecutors have broad discretion in deciding whether to press such minor charges — just as they do in more consequential cases such as the manslaughter charge against Lonnie Swartz, the Border Patrol agent who killed 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez in October 2012. According to Mr. Swartz, he opened fire on the boy, shooting 16 times in what the agent said was self-defense, through the fence that divides the city of Nogales along the Arizona-Mexico border. He said the boy had been throwing stones at him across the frontier.

      Mr. Swartz was acquitted on second-degree murder charges last spring, but the jury deadlocked on manslaughter charges. In a second trial, last fall, the jury also failed to reach a verdict on manslaughter. Last month, prosecutors declined to seek a third trial.

      While the aid workers seek to avoid prison time, Americans may well wonder about a system in which justice is rendered so perversely.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/convicted-for-leaving-water-for-migrants-in-the-desert--this-is-trumps-justice/2019/01/27/9d4b3104-2013-11e9-8b59-0a28f2191131_story.html?noredirect=on