Composed mostly of volunteers, No More Deaths (No Mas Muertes) is a Tucson, Arizona-based nonprofit founded in 2004 by local religious leaders to facilitate the safe passage of illegal immigrants across the Mexico-U.S. border. Expressing “indignation and sadness over the continued death of hundreds of migrants attempting to cross [that] … border each year” — deaths that NMD says “diminish us all” — the organization enumerates several basic Faith-Based Principles that guide its activities:
1) “Recognize that the current Militarized Border Enforcement Strategy is an ill-conceived policy: Since 1998 more than 5,000 migrants … have lost their lives in the deserts of the US-Mexico borderlands trying to make their way into the United States. These tragic and unnecessary deaths must stop. The border blockade strategy has militarized the US-Mexico border, which drives migrants into remote desert regions yet has failed to stem the flow of immigrants into the United States. Further, the fragile desert environment has sustained severe damage as a result of migrants moving through remote desert regions and responding enforcement patrols.”
2) “Address the status of undocumented persons currently living in the US: Workers and their families currently living in the US must have access to a program of legalization that offers equity-building paths to permanent residency and eventual citizenship for workers and their families. Legalizing the undocumented workforce helps stabilize that workforce as well as their families.”
3) “Make family unity and reunification the cornerstone of the US immigration system: Migrants enter the United States either to find work or to reunite with family members … Families must be allowed to legally and timely [sic] re-unify as well as to immigrate together as a unit.”
4) “Allow workers and their families to enter the US to live and work in a safe, legal, orderly, and humane manner through an Employment-Focused immigration program: International workers’ rights must be recognized and honored in ways that protect: the basic right to organize and collectively bargain, individual workers’ religious freedoms, job portability, easy and safe travel between the US and homelands, achievable and verifiable paths to residency, and a basic human right of mobility.”
5) “Recognize that root causes of migration lie in environmental, economic, and trade inequities: … [C]current trade and aid strategies that are based on greed and lack of basic respect deeply and negatively impact workers, their families, and the environments in migrants’ homelands. This is forcing a quest-for-survival-based migration of unparalleled proportions.”
In the Arizona desert, NMD sets up movable camps (which it calls “Arks of the Covenant“) containing “migrant aid centers” that care for illegal border-crossers suffering from the physical effects of the desert heat during their trek toward the United States. NMD provides these individuals with free medical assistance, water, food, first-aid supplies, clothing, grocery-store gift cards, phone cards, gasoline cards, and personal-care items (shaving cream and razor blades, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, lotions, sunscreen, lip balm, etc.). Once the migrants have been fed and otherwise cared for, they are loaded up with packages containing these items and are sent on their way toward the U.S. border. To extend the reach of its services, NMD sends “samaritan patrols” of volunteers to search the desert for migrants who may have wandered off the beaten paths, and to invite them to the NMD camps.
In May 2010, NMD and Tierra Y Libertad (an advocacy group for illegal immigrants), together initiated a “We Reject Racism/Rechazamos El Racismo” campaign. Founded on the premise that the United States is a nation infested with bigoted malevolence directed toward nonwhite immigrants, this program seeks to build “a network of people committed to anti-racism.” In particular, it “resist[s] anti-immigrant practices like SB1070″ — a 2010 Arizona law deputizing state police to check with federal authorities on the immigration status of criminal suspects whose behavior or circumstances seemed to indicate that they might be in the United States illegally.
In 2011, NMD collaborated with a number of other activist groups — including Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine — in a coordinated national campaign to pressure Wells Fargo Bank “to withdraw its financial support for the private prison industry.” The participants depicted their initiative as the moral equivalent of the divestment campaigns which had helped bring an end to South Africa’s apartheid system in the 1980s.
To raise money for its various projects, No More Deaths actively solicits financial contributions from individuals. Two of its fundraising campaigns are titled “Adopt a Migrant Center” (where donors pay all operating expenses for an NMD facility) and “Adopt a Volunteer” (where donors pay all living expenses for an NMD worker, approximately $600 per month).
Organizations affiliated with NMD include: Border Action Network, BorderLinks, Campañeros en Misión, Casa San Juan, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Frontera de Cristo, Humane Borders, Just Coffee, the Migrant Welcome Center (at Altar, Sonora), and Samaritans.
NMD is a supporter of the Free Gaza Movement.