Note from the Safety Team

Each participant on the Migrant Trail is required to be on a team.  Participants choose their teams based on their interest, skills, or energy.  The following is a note from the Security Team, giving a basic understanding of team functions, responsibilities, and needs.

Note from the Safety Team

Dan’s Thoughts on Migrant Trail safety: I have been involved multiple Migrant Trail Walks, and one of the comments that I have heard from our leaders every time is the necessity of getting people into, and out of, the desert safely. Although a remarkable activity to experience, the walk from Sásabe holds many risks for the “newbie” and veteran alike, and the organizers are constantly working to minimize those risks and maximize the safety of the experience. The following are safety procedures expected from participants:

1. Gaining consensus from a group of human rights activists is difficult. Everyone has their own idea on how it ought to be done, often chafe at the need to walk in a certain way, and respond to directions in a prescribed manner. None of the leaders is attempting to make it a militaristic experience; we are most concerned with safety. We know that we can only walk 75 miles if we work together and stay connected.
2. As mentioned above, safety is a predominant concern. Walking single file and on the right shoulder of the road minimizes the chance of an accident with traffic. Following directions from the safety person in the back of the line enables people to leave the road area and stay away from traffic approaching the group. Staying together and not developing “holes” in the line enables everyone to be accounted for and minimizes the chance of someone being left behind.
3. Efficiency is another powerful concern. We have a window of opportunity to walk during the cooler part of the day by getting up early and taking advantage of cooler weather. Were we to stop more often and do more “sightseeing” we would be out in the heat for a much longer time. Spending time working efficiently together while walking allows for a quicker walk, more time under shade, and minimizes sun exposure.
4. The appearance of the group is also of value. As we walk on the road, people drive by and observe 50-55 people walking in unison with a common goal. As we get closer to Tucson the issue of how we appear to the general public becomes a more important concern. By working and walking together, we exemplify unity and commitment to the memory of the thousands who have died in the desert.
5. While camping on the Wildlife Refuge it can be risky for people to wander off to look around. While we are safe as a group, we are not alone in the desert. By staying together within the confines of our campsite, we minimize risks and encounters with Border Patrol and smugglers.

Thank you for your willingness to abide by expectations that you may find constraining. The Safety Team wants to keep people safe, to efficiently get folks into and out of the desert, and to promote an appearance that demonstrates the nature of our walk and our commitment to honor those who have not had our privilege and comfort in their walk across the Altar Valley.

Each participant is expected to honor all safety precautions (see Participant Agreement). Everyone helps to keep the Walk in single or double file and ensures the safety of all participants, supporters, and onlookers. All participants must remain in the camping area once we arrive to a camping spot. Radio contact is maintained between the walk leaders and the support vehicle leader and drivers. If you are lagging for any reason, you will be picked up in a support vehicle. As stated in the participant agreement, and for everyone’s safety, you must immediately get into a support vehicle when it stops to pick you up.