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Thursday, November 3rd

This morning we left early to meet up with a volunteer with Humane Borders, a non-profit, humanitarian aid organization that seeks to provide relief to individuals in the desert regardless of their ethnicity or purpose for being there. Humane Borders has been operating in this area of Arizona for approximately 10 years and currently operates about 100 different watering stations throughout the region, although many of those watering stations are not used nearly as much during this winter season in the desert.

The goal was to follow Carl, a volunteer, in our two vans as he navigated his truck into a sparse and unpopulated part of the desert.

...

We are parked along the side of a two-lane road in the midst of a desert about ten miles north of the United States/Mexico border. Carl, who works with Humane Borders and who earlier took us out into the desert to see a watering station has stopped to provide a gentleman with water. We do not know whether or not the gentleman is crossing illegally, but it is rare to see anyone out on foot during the day.

I'm sure we will hear more from Carl about the exchange here in a few moments when we arrive back at the Humane Borders office.

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We are back at Humane Borders again. It turns out that the gentleman on the side of the road was attempting to make his way up to Phoenix for the third time. Likely, he would have come up a few weeks ago (or perhaps even longer) from southern Mexico, acquiring a loan to pay for his bus ride and to pay for a coyote. After his first attempt, he probably would have been dropped back in Nogales with essentially no resources.

This time, he had started in Nogales, Mexico seven days ago, which means that he had only traveled about ten miles north of the border in a week. He was obviously lost, and explained to Carl that he had gotten separated from his group. This explains why we saw him walking on the side of the road.

Carl said that it is very irregular to see any immigrants even doing the work he does since the majority of immigrants now choose to travel by night. Plus, with the added border patrolling and enforcement, the routes continue to change all the time. It seems that the routes here in Arizona continue to go further and further west into the more mountainous and drier regions.

Up the road from where we encountered this man was a large tour bus - plain white with tinted windows. Carl explained that these buses are run by private organizations but that they are working with Border Patrol to help facilitate deporting those who are caught back into Mexico. It has gotten to the point, though, where the Border Patrol is no longer taking those who are caught directly back to Nogales. Instead, in an effort to deter future attempts to cross the border, they are sending bus loads as far east as Texas and all the way out to California to deport these individuals. In the last few days, it has also been reported that the United States has resurrected the practice of flying those who have been caught to Mexico City.

With Carl is a young woman with the London Times, doing a month long study of the issue of immigration in America. She and Carl stopped to talk to the man along the side of the road. They provided him with water (in the heat of the summer, those who attempt to cross the border need approximately two gallons a day of water); they listened to his story, and - in general - they gave him some encouragement. It is hard to say what will become of him.

In the last ten years, there have been approximately 1,800 deaths recorded of persons trying to cross this region. This figure only records the number of bodies that have been found and recorded. Carl believers that there will be remains found in this region for years to come.

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