Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Fargo Samaritan saving migrants

by C.S. Hagen | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | News | May 30th, 2018

Kathleen Millard - photograph by Raul Gomez

FARGO – Red dots fill a death map recording fallen migrants south along the Mexican border. They cluster mostly around the Tohono O’odham Nation, because that’s where jurisdiction muddies, and Kathleen Millard has difficulty hiding water.

A former massage therapist and French teacher in Fargo, Millard, 60, now lives in Tucson, and is a volunteer with the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans, a nonprofit group that provides water, food, and first aid to migrants trying to escape into America through the Sonoran Desert.

She’s not helping migrants cross the craggy border, she dares the elements and thorny creosote bushes to make water drops to help them live.

“Humanitarian aid is not an illegal thing,” Millard said. “We cannot load anyone up and take them away.”

Temperatures along the migrant trails are unpredictable, becoming hot enough to bake a cake in a car, Millard said. The 120,000-square-mile territory receives as little as three inches of rain a year. Many migrants come from South America, and are escaping cartels or gangs. What little they know of the harsh desert climate is exposed through the 3,086 deaths since 1999.

Hostile, is one way Millard described the Sonoran, for it crawls with rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, and more imminent threats like ICE agents, border patrols with surveillance techniques, drug cartels, and the Arizona Border Recon, a heavily-armed paramilitary militia group.

“Everything in the desert bites you,” Millard said. “It has its own beauty, but it is dangerous.”

From a plastic bag she pulled out “basura,” or discoveries from her routes, a handmade carpet slipper -- sand still clinging to sole -- used to cover tracks, a water bottle, a tube of ointment. Migrants once carried the items, she said, while hoping for a better life in America.

During her route, she’s come across areas lined with backpacks, “tortilla cloths,” or embroidered materials made by loved ones they’ve left behind. Sometimes she stumbles upon a cactus wrapped in Our Lady of Guadalupe. Trophy trees are prickly shrubs decorated with female undergarments who have “paid the price” and were raped by “coyotajes” or others.

Business has been good for coyotajes, or coyotes, those who are paid to smuggle people across the Rio Grande, so good, in fact, local cartels have become involved, providing expensive kits for border crossing.

In some places, President Trump’s wall is already up, Millard said, but the double barriers aren’t working. Migrants scale them easily.

“You can look through the wall and see tons of black bottles where people just dumped them to climb over,” Millard said.

Time is measured by walking distance. From the border, it’s a week’s walk to her house, she said.

Every time a body is found, it is catalogued, and the spot is later marked by a cross. Millard has come across more crosses than she can count while delivering water, sometimes in plastic gallon jugs, sometimes in 55-gallon barrels.

Millard’s decision to join the Samaritans came easily, as soon as she heard of the opportunity, she jumped.

“I knew there were people who did this,” Millard said. “One day I was outside a thrift shop, standing under a parasol, and a man asked me to take a picture. He had on a Samaritan T-shirt.

“We’re not there to encourage migration, we’re there to keep them from dying in the desert,” Millard said.

Locals and border patrol agents are sometimes gruff, sometimes cheerful, Millard said. Sometimes ranchers allow Samaritans onto their land, sometimes they don’t. GPS systems don’t always work in the desert, and she’s gotten lost before.

“Some people want us there to keep people from dying,” Millard said.

The United States has nearly 20,000 miles of vulnerable land and sea borders, according to Humane Borders, another organization that maintains water stations and tallies migrant deaths in the Sonoran Desert.

The costs to taxpayers to patrol the Sonoran Desert isn’t cheap, $186.8 billion since 1986 with the passage of the Immigration and Reform and Control Act, Humane Borders reported with information from the United States Chamber of Commerce.

The Humane Project works to debunk myths pertaining to migrants and illegal workers in America: undocumented immigrants do not take jobs that could be filled by an unemployed American.

“Typically, they have different education and skill levels that complement, but do not compete with one another,” the nonprofit organization reported.

For those that claim illegals should wait in line like everyone else, the lines do not exist, especially if the person is undereducated or poor. Current American policy allows for approximately 10,000 Mexicans to immigrate every year, but in 2012 the border had more than 360,000 illegal migrants attempting to cross.

“We don’t know how many got through without arrest, but just with what we know, how long would a person have had to ‘wait in line’ in order to get here legally?”

Current FBI statistics, reports from think tanks on both sides of the political aisle, show that migrants are less likely to commit crimes, even misdemeanors, than the native population, according to Humane Borders.

“In fact, study after study consistently shows that areas where there is the most influx of immigration there are, also, the highest decreases in rates of crime in general and violent crime in particular.”

Undocumented immigrants also pay taxes up to $13 billion a year in the forms of sales taxes, property taxes, and payroll taxes, the Humane Borders reported.

Before 2004, the vast majority of illegals crossing the border were returned or deported through civil immigration systems. Prosecutions began skyrocketing in 2004, due to the controversial Operation Streamline. Champions of Operation Streamline argue the system, set in place in 2005, is working. Opponents say not only is Operation Streamline’s advancement across the US-Mexico border costing taxpayers far too much, private prisons are becoming enriched from holding migrants.

Now, President Trump promises a 1,000-mile border wall, which would cost up $31.2 billion, or $31 million per mile, according to the National Immigration Forum. In addition to the wall, more detention facilities costing $2.5 billion annually have been proposed, and ICE, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has expanded family detention, separating mothers, fathers, and children into camps.

To man the walls and the extra detention facilities, at least 5,000 more employees would be needed, according to the National Immigration Forum.

The costs and subsequent criminalization of migrants are what led Millard to the Samaritans. Since Trump’s inauguration, a No More Death, or No Mas Muertes camp, she knows of has closed. Remnants of the temporary safe haven are all that remain.

Two or three times a month, Millard climbs aboard a scratched up four-wheel drive vehicle early in the morning to set off on a six or more hour drive. She’s not going to stop, she said.

“The U.S. is spending an incredible amount of money on this, on criminalizing refugees,” Millard said.

She’s been on a news fast for 20 years, but unlike many in the area, and in America, she refuses to turn a blind eye to the migrants’ plight.

“Only by becoming engaged do you get information,” Millard said. “I like the idea of sneaking around and finding out what you can without getting into too much trouble. 

Recently in:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Policy, not law, has torn more than 2,300 children from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border. Although immigration reform has been a heated topic for decades, the policy of zero tolerance began with a…

Culture

​Dream factory

by HPR Contributor

By Oscar de Leonoscarldeleonjr@gmail.comTucked away near the rolling hills of West Hollywood, Chris Haskell, a former student at MSUM, makes his usual trek into his office where he edits footage to craft trailers to some of the…

Monday, June 25, 7 p.m.Sanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave N, Fargo It’s no surprise that Q magazine dubbed The Flaming Lips one of the "50 Bands to See Before You Die," with their elaborate stage shows and multi-layered…

Just last week Raul and I were driving a rental car on the backroads of Mallorca, a small Mediterranean Island off the coast of Spain. Not gonna lie, my nose may or may not have been pressed hard against the window admiring the…

Ireland Has Sent Pope Francis and The Vatican A Dear John Letter: “It’s Over!”The Irish people and the Vatican have been developing a huge cultural grand canyon for decades over the issues of gender identities,…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

Every year the Fargo Moorhead area celebrates its love of food with Restaurant week. Each restaurant involved prepares a special menu to showcase the best of what they have to offer. This year there are seventeen restaurants…

Front Street Taproom has struck up a relation with local record shop, Vinyl Giant. There are two events where turntables are set up and people can play their records. Every Wednesday they host Vinyl Night from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m.…

Scaring up early buzz as a premiere in the Midnight section of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” is the horror film of the year. Anchored by the vital performance of Toni Collette as grieving,…

By Tayler Klimektklimek@cord.eduCome one, come all to the 59th anniversary of the Midwestern Invitational Art Exhibition! This tradition celebrates each year with a preview and awards selection the first night of its showing, with…

Projects have a tendency to take on a life of their own once they’ve reached a certain point. When the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre was established in 1946 to offer other local opportunities for artistic expression outside…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

By Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comHow lucky we are in the FM area that we have so many craft breweries, but did you know that we also have two cider houses? Cottonwood Cider House is one of those cider houses and is just a short…

Best Local CelebrityCarson WentzBest Stylist / BarberJed Felix, Everett’s BarbershopBest Salon / Barber ShopEverett’s BarbershopBest Tattoo Parlor46 & 2 TattooBest Tattoo ArtistMeg Felix, No Coast TattooBest Gift ShopZandbroz…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

Last Word

​Keeping FM C.L.E.A.N

by HPR Contributor

By Paul JensenFargo, as the most populous city in the state with 120,000 inhabitants, added nearly 6,000 20-to-34-year-olds in 2015, just over five percent of the total population. Fargo is attracting well-educated young…