Reflection by Selene Andrade Bernal & Meghan Childs
Today’s main activity consisted of the desert walk, watched the abuse documentation, and reflected about our day. We headed down to Aravaca, AZ through a border checkpoint and down to where our desert walk began. We were joined by another delegation from Alvernia University, a UP alum Jacob, and another BorderLinks employee and No More Deaths volunteer Josh.
After an hour drive in an air conditioned van, we each carried a plastic gallon of water, and begun our journey. As we were walking, we were informed that that path we took was very well paved, since it was more of a trail. Having been on hikes before, it is safe to say that we expected flat land filled with cacti, however, this was most certainly not the case. Instead of being flat and sandy, as one may expect a desert to be, it was rocky and far from flat. The terrain consisted of many hills, fallen trees, and assortment of plants, and creeks and puddles left over from rain. We followed Josh about a mile in until we reached the first water drop and then proceeded, after a small rock climb, to the second drop to gauge how much water we should leave at each drop. At a certain point in the trip, we were asked to point which way was north, and only a handful out of twenty people pointed towards the right direction. We can only imagine what it must be like to not even have an idea to where you are heading without a guide, and in these extreme conditions facing dehydration, exhaustion, and many more possible complications. We were also lucky enough to only have walked a mile of a paved way, with a tour guide, properly dressed and packed. Even in these harsh conditions, I was able to see a little bit of one of the many motivations that kept immigrants going: faith. In one of the water drops, there was a mini altar with a few rosaries, crosses, and images of our catholic saints. After a few mental prayers, we left the site and a few gallons of water.
When we returned back to BorderLinks we met with a different No More Deaths volunteer and watched the abuse documentation presentation. This faced us with the reality of crossing the border and the cruel barriers they face both from the terrain as well as from Border Patrol Officers. We learned that around 8,000 bodies have been recovered from the BorderLands since the 90s, and that are only the bodies that were found, so in reality that number is probably closer to at least 10,000. We also learned about the abuse that migrants face at the hands of Border Patrol included dusting and scattering from helicopters, physical abuse, the destruction of humanitarian aid meant to save their lives, and even murder. This presentation called on us to face the terrible reality of crossing the border from Mexico to the U.S. It called on us to see the humanity of all and to not feed in to the current practice of dehumanizing immigrants, because no human should have to endure that kind of suffering and even death.
To end our day, we reflected about today’s activities, and came to the conclusion that today was certainly overwhelming. Many US citizens in our immersions had begun to make the realization of how blessed they were to have been born in this country, but they did it in a way that they had never thought about before. They also realized how close to home this border immersion hit to the other participants of this immersion, and to those that it didn’t, they also realized that a large percentage of people that they care about really do think about this issue every single day.