Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No More Deaths

Kimberly Ashworth

The issues occurring along the border between the United States and Mexico have been the center of media attention for quite some time. The migrants who choose to make the treacherous journey from rural Mexico to the United States face fifteen law enforcement agencies, drug smugglers, bandits, ranchers and gun-toting American militia groups. Those that attempt to provide the migrants with medical aid and assistance face criminal charges and retaliation. Despite these risks, there are those who continue to provide help to the migrants.

One of the most inspiring stories comes from Tucson, Arizona, where John Fife and Gene Lefebvre continue to work tirelessly to assist migrants. A Presbyterian minister and a co-founder of the Sanctuary Movement, Fife began his mission to help migrants crossing the border in the 1980s. This choice led to criminal charges and five years of probation. Undeterred, he partnered with Lefebvre in 2000 to found Humane Borders in response to the growing number of migrant deaths along the border. Humane Borders built 55-gallon water drums along the paths throughout the desert—or “death trails,” as Fife and Lefebvre call them. In 2002 Fife and Lefebvre founded Samaritans, a faith-based volunteer group that patrols the desert, providing medical aid, water, and food to migrants crossing the border in the summer heat. And in 2004 the two founded their current organization, No More Deaths (No Mas Muertes). No More Deaths is a faith-based humanitarian group whose volunteers walk the death trails and provide water and food to those crossing the border. No More Deaths operates under the slogan “humanitarian aid is never a crime.” Fife and Lefebvre believe their job is to save lives, not to protest or worry about political consequences.

Their thirty-year struggle to help migrants—whose only crime is seeking a better life and way to feed their children—is inspiring. Anti-immigration groups preach about the inevitable downfall of America if migrants are allowed to continue crossing the border into America. But their hate speech only leads to violence and tragedy. Recently, members of an anti-immigration group killed a nine-year-old girl and her father and seriously injured her mother. No More Deaths plays an interesting role in the immigration reform movement. Rather than protest or attempt to change the law, it seeks to provide aid and prevent unnecessary deaths along the border. It is a humanitarian group that can hopefully serve as an inspiration to those against immigration. No More Deaths emphasizes the message that we are all humans and that we are commanded by God, conscience, or another higher power to treat each person as we would want to be treated. It is not about which side is right, but about helping our fellow man. It’s time to forget the anger and violence directed towards those left with no choice but to come to America. It’s is time to remember that we are all human beings no matter where we may be from.

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