On Saturday, Marty and I had the pleasure of accompanying Green Valley Samaritans Richard and Inge on our second desert search together. Desert searches consist of driving and hiking through the desert and offering clean water, food and basic first aid to migrants in crossing.
It was a beautiful day with perfect Arizona summer weather – breezy, partly cloudy and not too hot. According to Inge and Richard, the number of migrants passing through this area is dwindling. I’ve also heard that summer in Arizona is a quiet time. There are many more migrants that pass through when the weather is more tolerable in the fall, winter and spring. Perhaps this is why we did not encounter any migrants on Saturday’s search, though we did find someone on the last desert search.
We were driving West on Arivaca-Sasabe Road when we came across a young man sitting alone on the side of the road. He was despondent when we found him, he wouldn’t make eye contact and didn’t acknowledge our presence. Richard offered him food and water, which he gratefully accepted. Richard also offered to call La Migra (Border Patrol) for him, which he also wanted. His clothes were dirty and there were some holes in his shirt. He looked tired, defeated, and vulnerable. He had given up. We asked him his name (Luis), where he was from (Caborca, Sonora, Mexico), and how old he was (seventeen). After giving Luis clean clothes and food, a Border Patrol car drove by. With some measure of regret, we waved them down.
The encounter made me think of my own life and what I was doing when I was seventeen. I was getting ready for college, enjoying a carefree summer with my friends. I wasn’t crossing a desert without family or friend. I wasn’t seeking a better life in a new country. I imagined how afraid I would have been, crossing the desert and hoping to make it to the other side, a place where I’ve been promised a better life with more opportunities. I imagined what it would have been like for me at seventeen, worn, weary and vulnerable, giving up and turning myself in to border patrol. It made me think of how much privilege I have, it seems unfair to me that I live in a completely different reality. More than that, it seems unfair that I’ve lived my life in ignorance, not knowing that this is life for some people and not trying to do anything about it.