The Border Songs CD is available online at Twenty dollars from each sale goes directly to No More Deaths/No Más Muertes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

“Who cleans up all the garbage you are leaving in the desert?”

Today, October 12, 2014, the Border Songs cd has been out for two years. We have raised many thousands of dollars to help No More Deaths provide humanitarian aid to people in extreme need. I don’t have an accurate # for how much we have raised—our accountant has been busy—but let’s just say approximately $65,000. That’s a lot of water, food and medical supplies! 

Today at the Flagstaff Community Market, and again on Facebook, a woman posed a thought-provoking, important, and perhaps slightly hostile question: “Who cleans up all the garbage you are leaving in the desert?,” she asked.

I provided a quick answer: "We" do! No More Deaths volunteers, as well as volunteers from all other humanitarian organizations working in the Sonoran desert (Humane Borders, Samaritans etc.) continually pick up trash and remove it from the desert.

Do the water bottles and migrant packs cached in the desert get discarded in the desert and do they remain there until someone, for example, a humanitarian, picks them up? Yes.

I think I can speak for all NMD and other humanitarians to say that we lament the accumulation of trash caused by undocumented immigration. None of us like to see trash in the desert. That said, isn’t it preferable to find empty water jugs (ie. trash from water that may have saved a life or lives) than a corpse?! 

Sometimes, at water drops, migrants swap bottles filled with potential death for clean, life-saving water. As Margaret Randall writes in "Offended Turf" (on Border Songs), "abandoned plastic gallon jugs, some filled with the urine of desperation crack beneath mid-March sun." Other times migrants leave bottles filled with stock pond water, often with floating cow feces. Drinking stock pond water likely sickened Josseline Jamileth Hernández Quinteros, the 14-year old girl from El Salvador whose death continues to resonate in the No More Deaths community.

Undocumented migrants are going to attempt to cross the border regardless of whether humanitarians attempt to provide aid. That is a fact. Migrants are in the desert and they have no guarantee or expectation of finding aid. They are desperate and sometimes ignorant of the dangers that await them. As long as there are people in the desert at risk, and dying--over 7000 human remains have been found in the borderlands since 1994--the ethical and moral approach is to provide people with humanitarian aid.

This is not an endorsement of anyone's decision to cross the border without documents, it is simply a humane response. A cadaver in the desert is not "garbage," it is a tragic loss of life that resulted from an inhumane global system that values the enrichment of some over the lives and misery of others.

The solution to our failed immigration policies is complicated by nefarious economic and political interests (the US labor industries, the for-profit prison industry and the border industrial complex). We will strive to find solutions though we know this will entail a very long process and struggle. Meanwhile the solution to trash in the desert is remarkably low-tech: People with garbage bags pick up the trash.

The solution to deaths in the desert is more urgent though still fairly simple: People need water, food and clothing. I told this woman that we welcome help from anyone and everyone who would like to be a part of the solution. . .

Many of us live too far from the border to cache water and pick up trash. All proceeds from Border Songs go directly to No More Deaths so that they can continue to provide aid. Each album purchased provides 29 gallons of water or the equivalent in food or medical supplies! Thank you for keeping the Border Songs project alive, so that it can help humanitarians save lives and reduce suffering!

Humanitarian aid is never a crime! No más muertes!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

While selling CDs at the Farmers Market today I noticed that a couple had a bit of an edge when I approached them. We started talking and the man asked me what it is that we are advocating. I explained that No More Deaths provides humanitarian aid.

•No More Deaths does not encourage undocumented immigration.
•No More Deaths does not "make it easy" for people to enter the country illegally.
•No More Deaths provides humanitarian aid, attempting to eliminate death and suffering.

The man told me that we need to seal the border by placing walls across the entire distance. He believes that we can close the border. I explained what I have come to understand about the wall. I told them about the "funnel effect," explaining how the US Government's strategy of "deterrence" (including nearly 700 miles of barrier) essentially forces people who are desperate to cross to pass through dangerous and remote areas. I told him that over 7,000 human remains have been found in the borderlands since 1994. I also told him that I know  people who can climb the wall in 8 seconds. I talked about how NAFTA and CAFTA flooded the Mexican economy with cheap US-subsidized corn. Consequently, the price of corn dropped 75% and millions of Mexican corn farmers, processors and transporters lost the ability to sustain themselves. I asked if it wouldn't make sense to make it possible for Mexicans and Central Americans in their own countries instead of spending $18 billion per year on enforcement that enriches the border military complex and the for-profit prison industry?

They are afraid of criminals and terrorists entering our country. I pointed out that there have not been any terrorists attacks against the United States by people who entered the country illegally from Mexico. Most terrorists that have attacked the US either came into the country via airplane, or were born here.

I don't know how many of my arguments they were able to agree with, but ultimately they ended up shaking my hand, thanking me, and making a donation to No More Deaths. In general, we disagree about what should be done, but they also told me that they don't want people to die in the desert. This is where we found common ground: No human being should die of thirst or exposure in the desert while seeking a better life!

The Border Songs CD Project chose to support No More Deaths because we believe that the conversation needs to start with the humanitarian crisis on our border. The political issues are, unfortunately, so imbricated with corrupt political and economic forces, that our struggle is going to be long and hard. That said, the humanitarian issue is simple: People need water, food, clothing and medical care. No More Deaths (and other humanitarian organizations) provide this aid.

I find it encouraging that this couple made a donation to No More Deaths. People with divergent political viewpoints can find common ground. We're all human after all . . .

Thank  you for telling everyone you can about Border Songs. Each album purchased puts 29 gallons of water in the desert!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Una entrevista en español con Robert Neustadt sobre Border Songs, la frontera, No más muertes etc.. An extensive 17 minute interview in Spanish about Border Songs, the situation on the border, No More Deaths, Sanctuary etc. (from CLACSO TV, Argentina).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Saving lives, one song at a time . . .

Another page from the Border Songs booklet. Pictured is the shrine in the desert for a a 14 year old girl from El Salvador, Josseline, an "unaccompanied child migrant" who did not make it. Want to keep that from happening? Buy (another) Border Songs album, each purchase puts 29 gallons of water in the desert!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

While the world watches the World Cup, thousands of migrant men, women and children are seeking a way to survive . . .

A page from the Border Songs booklet. You can buy Border Songs online (see links to the right on this page).  Each album purchased provides the equivalent of 29 gallons of water for people in need! Save lives and reduce suffering, one song at a time . . .

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Border Songs has raised nearly $60,000, all of which has gone to No More Deaths / No Más Muertes to reduce death and suffering on the border. Please remember, we're a grass roots project with no advertising budget so please share the information with friends, colleagues and family members who will support the cause.  It's HOT on the border now and no one deserves to die for lack of water! Each album purchased provides 29 gallons of water or the equivalent in medical supplies, food or blankets!