July 10, 2019

Arizona-based organization brings migrant guide project to Sonora

The guide is aimed at increasing the security and safety of migrants traveling through Mexico and to the U.S.

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The leader of a Tucson-based organization is visiting Sonora, Mexico, this week to share a guide designed to help migrants on their journey through Mexico and into the United States.

One of the biggest dangers for migrants traveling through Mexico is a lack of information, said the Rev. Robin Hoover, president of Migrant Status Inc., which created La Guía del Migrante.

“The whole idea is to provide security and safety to the migrants as they’re in transit coming across Mexico and potentially to cross our Southwest desert,” he said.

The guide includes information about travel routes, organized crime, migrant shelters and basic survival techniques. There’s also advice on what to do if migrants get lost in the desert or apprehended by Border Patrol.

In a written statement, Tucson Sector Border Patrol said crossing the Arizona desert outside a legal port of entry can be dangerous for migrants, “no matter what resources they may have in hand.”

“Along southern Arizona’s border with Mexico, criminal organizations control when and where migrants cross,” the statement reads. “These criminal human smuggling organizations do not value human life, and migrants can often find themselves in a perilous situation.”

But Hoover said that’s all the more reason to provide migrants with a resource to help them make informed decisions about how, and if, to make their journey to the United States. And his guide includes a statement saying the authors encourage migrants to rethink their decision to attempt to travel to the United States.

Nearly 20 years ago, Hoover started the nonprofit Humane Borders to prevent migrant deaths by providing water for migrants crossing the Arizona desert. Now, he said, he’s tackling a lack of information that leaves many vulnerable.

“Migrants lacked water, and they were dying because of dehydration,” he said. “Many are dying today because they are ill-prepared.”

Hoover said he’s been working with shelters in southern Mexico since early this year. Now, he and a group of volunteers are in Sonora to share the guide with government leaders and migrant shelter operators.

The goal, he said, is to get the guide into the hands of as many migrants as possible.

The guide can be downloaded onto a cellphone or displayed as a slideshow at shelters for migrants without phones or internet access.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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