Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Thursday, March 31, 2005





Tuned In: No more deaths

ASU group travels to border to prevent immigrant deaths

 by Heather Wells  published on Thursday, March 31, 2005

Political science and Spanish sophomore Kyle Barron started No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes this semester.  Barron says the club is doing well and that membership is increasing. /issues/arts/692652
Political science and Spanish sophomore Kyle Barron started No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes this semester. Barron says the club is doing well and that membership is increasing.


He hadn't had water for two days, food for three.

Abandoned by his group and no longer able to walk, he was alone in the desert, waiting for U.S. Border Patrol to find him, or worse, to die.

But instead, a group of ASU students found him.

One of them was political science and Spanish sophomore Kyle Barron. She is the president of No More Deaths ASU, a new student organization working for immigrant rights and safety.

"We asked him where he was from, what his plans were after he got detained," she says. "He said as soon as his feet healed up, he was coming right back. He wanted to go to Phoenix and be a construction worker."

Barron says illegal immigrants like the man she found on the Arizona side of the border, are the reason she started the No More Deaths this semester. And in Arizona, which is considered the busiest crossing point along the 2,000-mile southern border, the problem is particularly dire.

Of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol last year, 51 percent crossed at the Arizona border.

"It moves you that that's what people will go to -- that they'd risk so much for something that for us is seemingly so little," she says.

Barron says she has always been politically active, but when she started learning more about border issues, it hit home.

"It seemed more regionally pertinent," she says. "It's in my backyard. I know quite a few people who have come over and are in that situation where they're kind of feeling marginalized."

No More Deaths ASU is a branch of the No More Deaths Coalition based in Tucson. No More Deaths works together with other groups interested in border issues, such as Derechos Humanos, whose members fill up water stations for illegal immigrants who run out of water and often are on the verge of death in the dry, sweltering desert, and Border Action Network, which works on the legislative side of border issues.

No More Death's goal, on a basic level, is to prevent the deaths of people crossing the border into the United States illegally from Mexico by providing them with water, food and, if needed, medical help. They also seek to get the word out about what is really going on at the border.

"Pretty much no one was dying before 10 years ago, but U.S. policy started to militarize the border, and they cut off the easier urban crossing points," Barron says. "Since then, 3,000 people have died. In 2000, 500 people died."

Along with that, she says, there has been no actual decrease in the number of people crossing the border illegally.

"Even if you say we need to stop people from crossing, this definitely isn't working," she says.

Barron says there are many different opportunities for people to get involved in the cause. The group welcomes help from people of all different backgrounds and beliefs.

"The cool thing about No More Deaths is that it appeals to a lot of people," she says. "If somebody's not comfortable with going out to the desert, they can help us with food and supply drives. Liberal people help because they find it as a human rights thing, but then a lot of churches and religious people want to help because they say, 'We're all human.'

"So it goes across a broad spectrum -- it's not political."

However, the group is involved in the political process. This week, members participated in a march against a bill that would make English the official language of Arizona. The group also is keeping an eye on the Minuteman Project, a vigilante group that patrols the border.

"We are sending legal observers there," Barron says. "They'll be down there to document everything that goes on in case there are any abuses."

Although Barron believes her group is doing good, their efforts are controversial.

"People say, 'Aren't you breaking the law?' " she says. "But everything is done very out in the open. No one is breaking the law. The Border Patrol knows we're there, and actually we go and give the Border Patrol dinner sometimes. Saving a life isn't illegal in any way."

So while the government continues to figure out how to decrease the number of illegal immigrants crossing the border, Barron says she and No More Deaths will continue to do their part to minimize deaths.

"Some people don't know the risks, but of lot of people do, and despite that, they will cross over," she says. "People aren't crossing because we have water in the desert or because we're helping them. They're doing it despite everything."

To get involved, contact Barron at No More Deaths ASU meets at 7 p.m. every other Wednesday in the Apache Room of the Memorial Union.

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