Border Patrol Agents Destroy Supplies Left for Migrants in Arizona Desert

Humanitarian groups report that United States Border Patrol agents have been observed vandalizing supplies left for migrants in the Arizona desert – an act that could literally cost people their lives. 

The accusations come in an extensive report published this month and titled “The Disappeared Report.” Authored by two Tucson-based groups, La Coalicion de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths, the report focuses on the activities of Border Patrol agents and the increasing but under-reported deaths and missing persons in the expanse between the U.S. and Mexico border.

The report includes three distinct sections: “Deadly Apprehension Methods,” “Destruction of and Interference with Humanitarian Aid” and “Emergency Nonresponse.” The first part was released last year, and the second part is now available.

Destruction of and Interference with Humanitarian Aid

This second section of the report examines the alarming frequency of damage to the groups’ aid drops.

Border Patrol officials have often pinned such destruction on hunters, contending that they tamper with food and water during hunting season. However, the report analyzed vandalism rates across different time periods and came to a different conclusion:

Water gallons were vandalized 415 times, or on average more than twice a week, during the three years of recorded data. Overall 3,586 gallons of water were vandalized. We compared vandalism rates across seasons (hunting vs. non-hunting) and land jurisdictions in our attempts to identify who is responsible. We found that although vandalism of our water-drop sites increased slightly during hunting season–to a vandalism event rate of 9.3%–there remained a baseline vandalism rate of 6.6% during non-hunting season, demonstrating that hunters are not responsible for the majority of the destruction.

While some of the vandalism might be attributed to wildlife and natural hazards, this still leaves a large proportion of the vandalized drops unaccounted for.

And immigrant rights groups say they have evidence of what is really happening. The following is a video reportedly taken during “the early morning of May 14, 2012″ and appears to show Border Patrol agents cavalierly kicking over water that was left for migrants near Arivaca, Arizona. The description on the video notes that the time stamp is incorrect.

And sadly, this is not an isolated incident. The following video combines footage of several apparent acts of vandalism, including one video of an agent pouring out water to take out “trash someone had left on the trail”:

Other video evidence shows Border Patrol agents removing emergency medical blankets.

The groups behind this report conclude that, after analyzing hundreds of acts of vandalism, this kind of activity cannot be dismissed as the acts of rogue agents. Instead, they claim that “the culture of the US Border Patrol both authorizes and normalizes such acts of cruelty.”

La Coalicion de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths demand that U.S. Border Patrol immediately cease the destruction of aid supplies, contending that such obstruction of humanitarian efforts may directly contribute to the deaths of border crossers. The organizations also want federal policy guidelines put in place to ensure that humanitarian aid workers are not harassed during their work. Meanwhile, they’re  working to encourage the United Nations and other inter-governmental bodies to recognize and discuss this issue.

This report comes amid escalating tensions surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border. President Trump has, of course, made no secret of wanting to “build a wall,” a project that he first claimed Mexico would pay for but has now admitted that taxpayers will have to fund. Additionally, many human rights groups have flagged the increasingly militarized nature of border crossings as something that will only exacerbate an already difficult humanitarian situation.

So what does the U.S. Border Patrol have to say about these accusations? The Guardian reports:

Steve Passament, a border patrol spokesman in the Tucson sector, said the agency did not condone the destruction of or tampering with water or food caches. “We don’t want to see anyone out there die. We have to do our enforcement job and we do it as humanely as possible. We want to save lives.”

Passament goes on to say that if anyone produces evidence of this kind of tampering, the responsible parties will be disciplined.

Take Action!

Join over 29,000 Care2 members in calling on Customs and Border Protection to end humanitarian aid sabotage. Urge agents to stop hounding humanitarian workers along the U.S.-Mexico border by signing this Care2 petition.

Photo Credit: Jonathan McIntosh

75 comments

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Jack Y
Jack Y8 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y8 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J8 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J8 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Angela J
Angela J9 months ago

Thanks

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Dave f
Past Member 10 months ago

Ty

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Deborah W
Deborah W10 months ago

MARTYRS IN EVERY CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR. To take it on, knowing ALL possible consequences will be addressed, continues -- as does the flow -- which must be addressed LEGALLY. Enter by the rules laid down, OR CHANGE THEM.

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heather g
heather g10 months ago

Most of the comments are as debased as the border patrol officials

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Leo C
Leo C10 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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