Saturday, April 20, 2013

Shura's Artifacts

A baby bottle... a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt... The Diary of Anne Frank in Spanish... The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous... shoes, purses, water bottles.

Shura Wallin, one of the founders of the Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans, displays these items lost by persons trying to cross the desert on Arizona's southern border to enter the United States.

"Why would people leave these things behind?  Why would they be dying out here?" she asks in her public lectures, prompting people to imagine the desperation of persons who try to cross the deserts south of Tucson.  

See more photos by clicking on this link:

In less than one year, 214 people died in two counties south of Tucson (October 1, 2009, to July 31, 2010).

The Samaritans make daily drives into the desert to leave water bottles and aid people who are lost or left behind by the group they were walking with.

Those who survive but are arrested and deported may show up at an aid station in Nogales, the border city split into US and Mexican halves.

"You ought to see his shoulders: indentations, almost ulcerating" from being forced to carry heavy loads of drugs, reports Shura of one immigrant.  

Coyotes (smugglers) in business for themselves have been replaced by coyotes controlled by drug smuggling gangs, who force migrants to carry heavy loads of marijuana or other contraband.

"Many have burlap straps over their shoulders... about 50% carry weapons because if they have no drugs at the end of the line, they will be shot and killed," she explains.

Other deportees have blisters on their feet.  "I'll wash your feet and put salve on them and bind them up for you," say the volunteers at the aid station in Nogales.  

They advise deportees not to risk their lives by trying to cross again, but many say, "I don't have a choice."

They may be trying to rejoin family members in the US or they may be desperate to feed a family in Mexico by earning money they can send home.

What can you do?

Write to your US Senator and ask him or her to vote for the immigration reform bill written by the bipartisan group of eight senators and now receiving hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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