Crossing the Burning Sands: Crisis at the Border

Most people in this country are not aware of the current deadly situation involving “undocumented” immigrants crossing the United States/Mexico border. Jennifer Hill, an aspiring Presbyterian minister, is a missionary directly involved in the No More Deaths campaign centered in Tucson, Arizona. This campaign is devoted to helping migrant workers safely make the journey across the border.

Hill, along with hundreds of other volunteers, are determined to put an end to the deaths of immigrants who must cross the deserts of Arizona to seek employment in the United States. Due to the difficulty in crossing the legal checkpoints, made especially difficult after legislation passed in 1993, migrant workers and their families spend many days walking through the desert without proper food and shelter. No More Deaths volunteers provide families with essential items as well as housing them in their “Arks of Covenants.”

Hill views these people as “migrant Christs in [her] presence,” expressing great respect and admiration. They are encouraged to seek shelter in the “sacred spaces,” systematically positioned throughout the desert. No More Deaths is devoted to making the long journey as painless as possible for the migrant workers.

Not all Americans are as enthusiastic to have so many immigrants cross over onto U.S. soil. The “minute men,” a local militia group, monitors the activity at the border. When the vigilantes spot people approaching the border, they call border patrol and often try to detain the immigrants themselves using force and abuse.

“We search the desert with granola bars and electrolytes,” Hill said. “[The minute men] search the desert with guns, dogs … and bats.”

Upon questioning, Hill said that the organization’s main goal was to legalize the border. Until that happens, Hill and her fellow missionaries help the journeyers stay alive. One volunteer was taken to a detention center because she refused to let migrant workers be released into government custody.

“[No More Deaths] feels the need to respond first and foremost to the people dying,” Hill said.

Now that the organization is starting to extinguish the death tolls, volunteers, including lawyers, are working with the government to change the crisis at the border.

Although there is speculation about the legality of the work of people like Hill, she assured the audience that they are on good terms with the government.

“We are open and communicative with the government,” Hill said. However, it is questionable whether the government is satisfied about the work of the missionaries.

No More Deaths is an increasingly prosperous organization and is always looking for and appreciating the help of donations and volunteers. A large percentage of the volunteers are college students looking to make a positive difference in the world.