For Immediate Release: Alternative Migrant Trail 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MAY 22, 2020

English/Spanish Media Contact: Olivia Mena (210) 723-0975 or Jamie Wilson (520) 730-2665
E-mail: azmigranttrail@gmail.com
Website: https://azmigranttrail.com
https://www.facebook.com/groups/92300350558/

17th Annual Migrant Trail Walk:
A Virtual Effort to Bear Witness to Migrant Deaths and Border Injustice

TUCSON, Ariz- For 17 years a group of committed individuals have gathered to call for an end to migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border.  Since 2004, every May, hundreds of participants have embarked on a week-long, 75-mile walk from Sásabe, Sonora, Mexico to Tucson, Arizona to call for an end to migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border and to stand in solidarity with victims of global migration. This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are unable to physically unite to remember those who have died crossing, but our commitment to supporting migrants and their families remains unchanged.  In order to continue to raise awareness about migrant deaths and to help raise money for local border justice organizations, we are launching an alternative Migrant Trail Walk experience to bring people together in a virtual environment.  One hundred percent of registration fees will benefit: BorderLinks, the O’Odham Anti-Border Collective, Keep Tucson Together, and the No More Deaths Emergency COVID-19 Bond Fund.

Since the 1990s, more than 8,000 children, women, and men are known to have died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2019, 247 deaths were recorded along the U.S.-Mexico Border; 153 human remains were recovered in Southern Arizona. From October 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020,  115 remains have been received by the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office in Tucson, AZ. These deaths are the direct result of U.S. border and immigration “deterrence” policies that intentionally divert migrants into isolated and desolate terrains of the borderlands.   

The current administration continues to increase the militarization of the borderlands and criminalization of (im)migrants, actions which not only directly cause many deaths, but also have devastating consequences for those who seek asylum and refuge. This administration has enacted policies that place children in cages and deport parents without their children, further demonizing and criminalizing those who have fled the violence and uncertainty in their home communities. Now, in a time of global crisis, the conditions in detention centers and the closing of borders to asylum seekers, continue to endanger the lives of (im)migrant families and communities.  None of these practices eliminate the reasons that migrants come to the US, and often mean that people take greater and greater risks to avoid detection.  Migrants who have fled the violence and uncertainty in their home communities to protect themselves and their families frequently attempt to avoid detection by crossing through remote and dangerous terrains. As the summer approaches, and Arizona temperatures reach searing triple-digits, the number of migrants who will perish from dehydration and exposure dramatically increases.  The participants of the Migrant Trail undertake this yearly trek to bear witness to this injustice and demand a stop to these tragic and preventable deaths.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the dangers and obstacles that migrant communities face, especially for almost 28,000 people held in detention by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to the agency’s most recent figures, 1,073 people held in detention have confirmed COVID and only 2,172 detainees have been tested. Neglecting to properly test people in detention while simultaneously refusing to release them to family or sponsors who are willing to support them is not only cruel, but it seriously endangers the safety, health, and wellbeing of those who are detained and those who work in detention centers. 

As long-time Migrant Trail participant, Saulo Padilla commented, “In the past few weeks, with the outbreak of COVID19, people in the U.S. have become aware of red dots [on a map] as a sign of death and danger across the country and the world. For humanitarian aid workers along the Mexico-U.S. border, red dots have been marking the sacred places where migrant brothers and sisters have taken their last breath in search of safety, family, a better life, work, and a better future during the past two decades. The first time I saw the red dots on a Humane Borders map, I could no longer stay quiet.”  Padilla added, “I wanted everyone to know about the tragedy happening along the Sonoran Desert. I have walked The Migrant Trail for the past decade to bring attention to the deaths of my migrant brothers and sisters. This year I join this virtual walk as an act of remembrance, solidarity, and to once again recognize the dignity of life represented by every red dot in the desert.” 

Since, 2004, “The Migrant Trail: We Walk for Life” has grown to be a multinational endeavor of allies who hail from diverse regions, faith backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities, and walk together in solidarity with our (im)migrant friends and their families to demand an end to migrant deaths on the border and the criminalization of (im)migration People from all over the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Latin America and Europe have participated in the walk over the years. 

The Alternative Migrant Trail will run from May 25-31, 2020,  and it will feature daily reflections, videos, podcasts, and featured speakers every evening.

Featured Speakers for the week include:

  • Guadalupe Castillo, Community Historian, Keep Tucson Together:” Broadening our Borderlands History”
  • Nellie Jo David, Co-Founder of the O’odham Anti-Border Collective:“O’odham Roots Run Deeper than Walls”
  • Todd Miller, celebrated border journalist and author:“In an Empire of Borders, Build Bridges, Not Walls”
  • Dan Millis, Borderlands Program Manager for Arizona’s Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club:“The Environmental Implications of Border Militarization”
  • Jessica Rodriguez, Southside Worker Center: “Living DACAmented”
  • Margo Cowan, Immigration Attorney and Community Leader: “Community Organizing and Legal Justice in the Borderlands”

For more information and to register go to: http://www.azmigranttrail.com.

Participants and organizers of the Migrant Trail call on all people of conscience to stand in solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers and call on the U.S. government to end practices and policies that cause migrant deaths, and to act with humanity and compassion to those endangered by the global pandemic of COVID-19.

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Migrant Trail 2020: An Alternative Experience

Registration has begun for the Migrant Trail 2020, a virtual community experience, will begin on Saturday, May 9th. See below for details and the registration link.

A Virtual Experience:

We, members of the Migrant Trail Organizing Committee, recognize that the deaths of migrants in the desert continue, despite the global pandemic that is Covid19. We are also seeing the terrifying risk of exposure that (im)migrant and asylum-seeking communities face and also in detention facilities in the face of the pandemic. This year, in an effort to continue in the spirit of justice and witness, we have created an alternative experience of the Migrant Trail. We seek to re-engage past participants and connect with future participants in a format that we hope will continue to connect us and inspire action.

The Migrant Trail 2020 Alternative experience will feature daily reflections, videos, podcasts, and featured speakers. Registered participants will receive a Participant Packet once their fees are paid that will include all needed information. See below for some of the confirmed speakers

ALL PROCEEDS from the registration fees will go to the following border organizations that are directly affected by both the border and the recent pandemic:

  • BorderLinks
  • O’Odham Anti-Border Collective
  • Keep Tucson Together
  • Bond Fund

Click HERE to learn more about these organizations

Registration Fees:

Sliding scale: $35.00 – $200.00 for the week

Click HERE to register

There are a limited number of scholarships available for those who are unable to pay the registration fee. Please contact us at: azmigranttrail@gmail.com for more information.

Featured Speakers and their topics Include:

  • Guadalupe Castillo, Community Historian, Keep Tucson Together:”Broadening our Borderlands History”
  • Nellie Jo David, Co-Founder of the O’odham Anti-Border Collective:“O’odham Roots Run Deeper than Walls”
  • Todd Miller, celebrated border journalist and author:“In an Empire of Borders, Build Bridges, Not Walls”
  • Dan Millis, Borderlands Program Manager for Arizona’s Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club:“The Environmental Implications of Border Militarization”
  • Jessica Rodriguez, Lead Organizer, Southside Worker Center, “Living DACAmented”
  • Margo Cowan, Immigration Attorney and Community Leader:“Community Organizing and Legal Justice in the Borderlands”

Click HERE for the full speaker bio list.

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Migrant Trail 2020 Cancelled

Dear Friends and Supporters of the Migrant Trail:

It is with heavy hearts that we reach out to you today to inform you that we have made the difficult decision to cancel the Migrant Trail this year. In light of the recommendations regarding social distancing and travel in response to Covid-19, we feel it is in the best interest of our community that we do our part to #FlattenTheCurve and keep as many people at home as possible.

This year would have been our 17th year of bearing witness to the deaths on the border by walking together in the Arizona desert. We are currently planning an alternative experience during the week that we can invite all to attend virtually. It will include reflections, videos, testimonies, and photos. We will be posting information on our website, Facebook page, and via email to all participants.

We would like you to know what an incredibly difficult and heartbreaking decision this has been for us. We remain committed to walking in solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers. We are experiencing a very challenging time right now, but if there is one thing that our 16 years of the Migrant Trail has taught us is that the journey is about making it together, helping each other along the way to ensure we all arrive as safely as possible.

From the Familia Migrant Trail to yours, we wish you the very best, and encourage you to stay safe as we walk these difficult times together as a global community, if not in person, very much in spirit.

En Solidaridad,
Migrant Trail Organizing Committee 2020

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Our Vision

The precarious reality of our borderlands calls us to walk. We are a spiritually diverse, multi-cultural group who walk together on a journey of peace to remember people, friends and family who have died, others who have crossed, and people who continue to come. We bear witness to the tragedy of death and of the inhumanity in our midst. Lastly, we make this sacred journey as a community, in defiance of the borders that attempt to divide us, committed to working together for the human dignity of all peoples.

La realidad precaria de nuestra frontera nos hace un llamado a caminar. Somos un grupo diverso en cultura y espíritu quienes caminamos juntos en una jornada de paz para recordar a nuestros compañeros, amigos y familiares: los que han muerto, los que han cruzado, y quienes continúan cruzando. Testificamos acerca de la tragedia de muerte e inhumanidad en nuestro medio. Finalmente, en comunidad, emprendemos un sendero sagrado en contra de estas fronteras que intentan dividirnos, comprometidos a luchar juntos por la dignidad de todos.

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