Arivaca, AZ, Aug. 1, 2020 – Around sunset on July 31st, US Border Patrol raided No More Deaths’ humanitarian aid station, Byrd Camp, detaining over thirty people who were receiving medical care, food, water, and shelter from the 100+ degree heat. In a massive show of force, Border Patrol, along with BORTAC, descended on the camp with an armored vehicle, three ATVS, two helicopters, and an estimated 24 marked and unmarked vehicles.
Agents refused to show a warrant upon entry, and were not wearing masks. For two hours, in darkness, they detained and chased people receiving care while a Border Patrol cameraman filmed the scene. The day before, agents had entered the property without a warrant and detained one person receiving care. Border Patrol then set up 24-hour surveillance around the perimeter, deterring anyone else from entering the camp to seek help.
Last night’s military style raid on the aid station is a clear example of Border Patrol’s deadly pattern of interfering with humanitarian aid. Many No More Deaths volunteers work as EMTs, paramedics, nurses, and doctors. Volunteers are trained to respect the autonomy of individuals receiving care — as is standard practice in the medical field, they only call 911 and Border Patrol with patient consent. All persons at camp had been medically evaluated, were stable, and were receiving continuous care.
The initial detention and surveillance of Byrd Camp was set up just 24 hours after No More Deaths released emails from a FOIA request revealing the role of BORTAC — the tactical unit recently mobilized against protestors throughout the United States — and the Border Patrol Union’s role in a 2017 raid of the same aid station.
Border Patrol previously raided Byrd camp in 2017, which predates Dr. Scott Warren’s arrest for providing humanitarian aid to two individuals. Warren was arrested just hours after No More Deaths released a report detailing Border Patrol’s interference with humanitarian aid, along with a video that went viral showing agents destroying water gallons. The message is clear: expose Border Patrol abuses, face retaliation
“Yesterday, Border Patrol harmed thirty people in irreparable ways. On a daily basis those who migrate through the Arizona desert are targeted, terrorized, detained, and deported.” Said Dr. Scott Warren, “Last night we witnessed these tactics deployed against people who sought medical care and relief at our Byrd Camp aid station. As always when humanitarian aid in the borderlands is targeted, those who seek care are the ones that face the brunt of these violent escalations.”
No More Deaths is a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona. We began in 2004 in the form of a coalition of community and faith groups, dedicated to stepping up efforts to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert and to achieving the enactment of a set of Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform. We later developed into an autonomous project. Since 2008 we have been an official ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson. www.NoMoreDeaths.org