Representatives from No More Deaths and Coalición de Derechos Humanos, two Tucson, Arizona-based humanitarian aid organizations, are visiting Kenyon as part of a speaking tour of colleges in the area.
Today at 6 p.m. in Gund Gallery’s Community Foundation eater, the representatives will educate attendees about the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border and discuss how students can help those negatively impacted by the current administration’s intensifying anti- immigration policies. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) is sponsoring this talk as part of its efforts to increase campus awareness about immigration issues.
“The organizations are going to share their experience working with families and immi- grants at the border, and they’re also going to share their experience with how the new presidency is a effecting immigrants in general,” Assistant Director of ODEI Jacky Neri Arias ’13 said.
No More Deaths and Coalición de Derechos Humanos are affiliated with the Earlham College Border Studies program in Tucson, which Kenyon students regularly participate in. Maddie Farr ’18, who is studying off-campus with the Earlham program, is interning for No More Deaths; one of the representatives coming to campus is her supervisor.
No More Deaths provides assistance to migrants at the border in a variety of ways, including research, community organizing and direct services. Farr mainly assists with on-the-ground work: Every Saturday, she goes to the Comedor, a resource center in Nogales, Mexico that provides services to recently deported persons, and assists deportees as they make phone calls. No More Deaths provides free phone calls to the U.S., Mexico and Central American countries. It also assists people with cashing checks and wiring money at this location, but Farr mainly helps with phone calls.
“People are usually calling their family members,” Farr said. “Oftentimes, people call families in the U.S. that they have just been separated from — their spouse, brother or sister — to check in with them. They often aren’t able to contact them while they’re in detention. A lot of times, they’re calling their family in Mexico or places like Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, to talk about the next step of their journey. They’re trying to arrange where they can go next, where they can get a job or where they can be with family.” No More Deaths and Coalición de Derechos Humanos are in the process of publishing a three-part report about the “crisis of disappearance” in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, according to a fact sheet co-authored by the organizations. The first part, “Deadly Apprehension Methods,” explores the ways in which the U.S. border-enforcement system fuels the missing persons crisis at the border. The researchers found that the U.S. Border Patrol routinely “chases border crossers into remote terrain, causing them to scatter, become lost and often die or disappear,” according to the report.
As part of her internship, Farr is helping to transcribe interviews for parts two and three of the report, which have not yet been published.
Meera White ’18 is also on the Earlham program this semester. White is interning at Ochoa Elementary School and the Gloo Factory in Tucson. At the elementary school, White works to connect students with the school’s community garden.
“My job is to help with the kids, do plantings with them, talk about how gardens work,” White said. “We discuss the environment, food systems, how things grow.”
The elementary school, which White said primarily teaches a Latino/Mexican-American population, was recently stripped of an important portion of its funding. “The school was recently stripped of their magnet school funding because they had too many Latino students,” White said.
Because Tucson is still subject to desegregation-era state laws, schools with any racial majority are technically deemed segregated, according to White. Because the school is more than 70 percent Latino, it technically does not meet diversity goals prescribed by an Arizona court in 2015.
The Gloo Factory, the other organization Meera works with, makes advertisement materials like posters, buttons, t-shirts and stickers for social justice and not-for-profit organizations. The Gloo Factory strives to help grassroots organizations in Tucson and beyond, according to White, and makes products for both No More Deaths and Coalición de Derechos Humanos.
White and Farr arrived in Tucson on Jan. 10, so they witnessed what the border was like before and after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Both agree that they have seen the effects of Trump’s policies.
“Two Saturdays ago, when I was in Nogales at the Comedor, we all noticed it was a very busy day,” Farr said. “There were a lot of people there from Nevada and Utah where there were massive deportation raids. It is clear that deportation is increasing. ere were a lot of childhood arrivals.”
However, according to Farr, it is important to remember that “there is already a wall.”
“The Comedor is always busy. I noticed intensification, but it has been bad for a long time.”
One of the moments in which White realized how “pressing the issues really are” came when a community member recently joined White’s Spanish class to facilitate the lesson. e presenter wound up discussing anxieties about Trump’s presidency.
The speaker was previously protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but feared that Trump would overturn this policy soon. “Trump could sign something to revoke those privileges and rights and deport those individuals,” White said. “Being here, there’s no way you can ignore that there are people right now facing life-or-death consequences for the actions of a few.”
Farr and White expressed how desperate and overwhelming the situation at the border can be, but they also agreed they have witnessed great resistance and bravery.
“Every day, I am moved by the resilience of undocumented people living and fighting here,” Farr said.
Farr and White conducted the interview for this article from a park in Tucson. “Right now, I’m watching a man play with his child,” White said. “There is joy here and people are thriving, people are surviving.”