In our current climate — both environmental (with predicted average temperature increases of 2.5-10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 100 years) and political (with a continued vilification of those crossing the border as well as those aiding in the humanitarian crisis) — the work being done at the border is imperative. Groups in Arizona and Texas, as well as individuals, are working every day to provide aid to those who have crossed and attempt to recover those who did not survive the journey. It is an honor to stand among those people, and an honor to travel to Falfurrias for the third time.
My own anxieties are the same as the previous trips: the harsh environment, the long days, etc. However, the recent trial of Scott Warren (cited above) adds an additional legal anxiety. The Beyond Borders team is no stranger to interactions with Border Patrol and other entities, especially after getting pulled over three times in May 2019 while filling water stations. Fortunately, this has been the most extreme of our encounters. Yet, Warren’s arrest and trail, which TIME called “the most severe of all charges faced by humanitarian aid workers by far” (Aguilera 2019) means it is more possible that our team will have more, and possibly more severe, dealings with Border Patrol.
While my irrational brain has these thoughts, my rational brain knows our team operates from a place of extreme privilege. We always have Deputy White with us, both for safety and to vouch for our presence and actions. We are also backed by an academic institution, an extra layer of protection that most organizations do not have. We have been and will continue to operate the same way we always have, but those working at the border every day are facing harsher consequences than we could imagine. Therefore, our job is twofold. We must perform the work at hand while in Falfurrias, but continue to educate about the border crisis wherever we go, as well as continue to support those organizations working tirelessly to aid at the border.
Nevertheless, I am going to try to push those anxieties aside (if I can) and be present for this trip. It is very likely that this will be my last trip to Falfurrias, a reality I have no yet come to peace with yet. The past two trips have changed my life in ways that are impossible to articulate or duplicate, and it is an experience I never want to end. But — I want others to have these opportunities as well. I am so excited for our rookie, Tanya, to experience Falfurrias and everything that comes with it. I am also excited to spend my last trip with two former teammates, Alba and Sammi. And as always, I am grateful for the ability to continue to work with and learn from Dr. Latham, who inspires me every single day.
Thank you to everyone who has supported this trip so far, and for your continued support throughout!