By Kate Morgan-Olsen

Sonoran desert around Arivaca, AZ

We are an Arivaca community organization that was formed in 2012 by a core group of residents involved in providing humanitarian aid in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. The need to grow community support for borderlands residents giving humanitarian aid to those crossing and dealing with Border Patrol encounters was clear.

Arivaca is a small rural community located in the militarized zone of the border region between the United States and Mexico. With a population of about 700, Arivaca is a vibrant rural community. As with many border communities, residential life in Arivaca has been deeply impacted by mass migration and the subsequent arrival of  thousands of Border enforcement agents and infrastructure to the area. Locals routinely encounter Border Patrol agents on their property, in town, on the road, or in the many helicopters flying overhead. All residents and visitors to the area must pass through an immigration checkpoint to confirm their citizenship status in order to leave town.

The implementation of Border Patrol’s “Prevention Through Deterrence” strategy  promoted the build up of walls around international ports of entry in order to funnel migration into deadly desert lands. The town of Arivaca lies inside a major rural desert corridor for those attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico and Central America without documentation. As a consequence of the funneling of migration traffic into remote desert lands, thousands of bodies have been recovered from the hills of southern Arizona, and many more will never be found.

While living with this human tragedy and under a sizable enforcement presence, Arivacans routinely provide critical care and humanitarian aid to migrants in distress who are crossing through the treacherous terrain. Our diverse community regularly gives food, water, and medical aid to those crossing out of a concern for human dignity and helping others, regardless of immigration status. Arivacans will not turn a blind eye to the death and suffering that occurs in our backyards.

People Helping People in the Border Zone is involved in several community projects. We co-sponsor the Arivaca Humanitarian Aid Office where locals and visitors can access humanitarian aid resources, including food, water, medical supplies, clothing, and more. PHP regularly hosts events and educational workshops ion the community, such as Know Your Rights Trainings, Medical Trainings, Spanish Classes, and various presentations about the border/prison industrial complex and other border crises topics. Please see our calendar for upcoming events. In 2013, PHP launched a campaign working for the removal of Border Patrol checkpoints in the U.S. interior and calling for demilitarization of the borderlands. Please join us in this unprecedented effort!