Volunteer is Convicted of Littering for Leaving Water Jugs in the Desert to Save Migrants' Lives
By Valeria Fernández, FI2W contributor
AJO, Arizona — José López, 22, injured his left leg while jumping the border fence in the middle of the night as Border Patrol agents chased him. At daylight, he found himself lost and alone in the middle of the Sonoran desert. Three days later he ran out of water and food. He survived by refilling his jug at water tank stations he happened to find across the desert, until he found a road and, in desperation, turned himself in to the Border Patrol.
As three-digit summer temperatures loom, human rights activists are stepping up their efforts to provide humanitarian aid in the form of water and food to immigrants who cross the Mexican border into Arizona. The state is a principal gateway for unauthorized migration to the U.S.
Humanitarian groups argue their goal is to save lives. Border crossers are often abandoned by human smugglers and get lost in the arid terrain without water. But sometimes those involved in efforts to aid the migrants encounter roadblocks and even prosecution. A volunteer was convicted Wednesday of littering for leaving water jugs in a national refuge.
“We have a humanitarian crisis on our borders, it is a disaster and very little if anything is being done to address it in a humanitarian way,” said Laura Ilardo, coordinator of the Phoenix chapter of No More Deaths.