We viewed the film, Crossing Arizona, which contains perspectives from humanitarian agencies such as Humane Borders, ranchers, Minutemen, farmers dependent on immigrant workers, Mexican citizens wishing to cross, and border patrol agents. In addition to covering a broad range of perspectives to the Arizona immigration issue, the film also covers the history of border policy and how increased border security has shifted unauthorized entry to the harsh desert landscapes. Some views maintained that increased militarization and agents patrolling the border would stop immigration while others acknowledged this country’s longtime dependence on immigrant workers and knew that as long as the demand was present and policies like NAFTA that increase inequality, workers will continue to attempt the ever dangerous crossing.
The main theme evident in all of the interviews with Mexican citizens was that they had families to support, bills to pay, or simply were looking for a better life. They all knew that there were many dangers and much uncertainty associated with attempting to cross the border but they also viewed crossing as their only way to survive. Through discussion following the film, we heard firsthand accounts from those who recently returned from a Migrant Trail Walk in Arizona. They attested to how difficult the multi-day journey is and even mentioned that seasoned hikers found the task difficult after only a few days into the trip. They also reminded us that unlike immigrants that attempt the crossing, they had the comforts of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical assistance when necessary and still found the journey mentally and physically challenging. They walked approximately 10 miles a day for almost a week. I find that for the immigrants able to complete such a journey through unknown desert terrain with what they can bring on their back and only 2 gallons of water if that, and for those that fail yet continue to try again, this attests to their will and determination to achieve their goals for a better life. This determination also proves, for me, that no matter what obstacles are placed in front of them, they will continue to find ways across the border as long as the United States continues to equal hope.
Action Steps: While the film focused on enforcement at the border, we are also seeing an increase in enforcement in the interior. Gabriela Flora of AFSC was our speaker and related 3 proposed actions at this event. The most pressing is calling Governor Bill Ritter (303)866-2471 to tell him not to sign onto Secure Communities. Please call right away, and continue making calls through the month of July. Secure Communities is a program that would “send the fingerprints of anyone arrested and booked for anything to Immigration…[including] the wrongly accused and innocent victims of domestic violence.” This program “will create fear and mistrust in our communities.”
Another action step is a 24-hour fast beginning Sunday, August 1st at 6:00PM until Monday, August 2nd at 6:00PM. Those who wish to will “camp overnight outside the GEO Immigrant Detention Center” and the following 24 hours will have “ongoing educational opportunities, time for deeper reflection on solidarity and…prayer.” The fast will be broken at AFSC’s monthly interfaith vigil at 30th and Peoria in Aurora. Please see flyer for the various ways you can participate.
The final proposed action is signing a faith-based petition asking Governor Ritter and the Colorado Legislature “to reject any legislation or policies resembling Arizona’s SB 1070, a law that denies due process for immigrants, increases the likelihood of racial profiling, and criminalizes those who offer direct aid for immigrants.” Instead, the petition states that “what is needed to fix our broken immigration system is leadership by the federal government…to enact humane, comprehensive immigration reform that reunites families and provides a pathway to legal status for those who are undocumented.”