Saturday, July 26, 2008

Week 7 (Rachel)

I am back in the courthouse.

This time it’s Dan on trial. He’s one of the coordinators for No More Deaths—the organization based in the borderlands to put an end to the great death toll that the desert takes on those who dare cross it. What is Dan being charged with? Placing gallons of water out for dying migrants is now to be deemed “litter.” What makes this situation even more absurd—if possible—is that when cited for littering, Dan and three other volunteers were actually filling up bags of trash to be packed out of the desert, as per their usual patrol activities. The catch is that this particular water drop was on a wildlife reserve and therefore littering is a serious crime as it damages the precious flora and fauna. This makes for an interesting predicament.

When did the survival of plants and animals become more important than that of human beings? As I sit in the courtroom, listening to the prosecutor and reservation guards argue Dan’s guilt, I have to wonder how important this wildlife reservation is to them. The legalities are frustrating. It is as if the legal system was waiting for its chance to target No More Deaths, to put an end to their humanitarian efforts. Yes, he was placing sealed jugs of purified water out on this reservation—but is this “litter?” I cannot help but see the parallel to how our legal system sees those who volunteers like Dan are trying to help. Do we not see the migrants as litter, just trash cluttering our society that can be treated however we desire? Historically, we bring in workers from Mexico when we need jobs to be filled but the second their presence becomes inconvenient for the “real” Americans…can’t we just get rid of them? Again, I feel like the humanity of the migrants is being pushed aside, they are not individuals with life stories and families to feed, but instead they are THOSE PEOPLE. We group the migrants together and label these brown people as one big nuisance. Why does the media present them like a burden on our society and not instead question why they are risking their lives to come here, dying in the thousands for something better? They are economic refugees and it’s not a pretty picture. No one wants to see the dilapidated and pieced together shacks that line the streets of Nogales. No one wants to hear that the children have to use the bathroom in a sewage pipe at their school. No one wants to see how our economic policies towards Mexico have actually created the surge of migration over the past decade and a half. We sanitize everything here in the United States. It is best to draw a thick line between the two nations, perhaps even build a fifteen foot wall to stave off the invasion. Keep the unwanted out. They are just litter anyway.

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