migrant trail
The Migrant Trail:
We Walk for Life

Our Vision:

The precarious reality of our borderlands calls us to walk.  We are a spiritually diverse, multi-cultural group who walk together on a journey of peace to remember people, friends and family who have died, others who have crossed, and people who continue to come.  We bear witness to the tragedy of death and of the inhumanity in our midst.  Lastly, we walk as a community, in defiance of the borders that attempt to divide us, committed to working together for the human dignity of all peoples.
Sponsors:

Coalición de Derechos Humanos
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BorderLinks
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Frontera de Cristo
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Tucson
No More Deaths
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Humane Borders  
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Francsiscans for Justice
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Shalom Mennonite Fellowship
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REA Communications
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Calpolli Teoxicalli
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Southside Presbyterian Church
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St. John's Episcopal Church of Mt. Pleasant
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Tucson Samaritans
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Cafe Justo
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University Presbyterian
 Church
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Mennonite Central Committee US
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Casa Mariposa
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365 Day Fast in Solidarity with DREAMers
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Earlham College Border Studies Program
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Coloradans For Immigrant Rights
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American Friends Service Committee Colorado
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Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans
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Church of the Good Shepherd
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Tucson Buddhist Meditation Center
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Most Holy Trinity Church
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Grace St. Paul Episcopal Church
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8th Day Center for Justice
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Mountain View Friends Meeting Peace and Justice Committee
Join Our Mailing List!
Tenth Annual
The Migrant Trail:
We Walk for Life
May 27- June 2, 2013

Join us for the tenth annual 75-mile journey from Sásabe, Sonora to Tucson, Arizona in solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers who have walked this trail and lost their lives. We bear witness to the lives that are lost, the families who mourn, and the communities that suffer the divisions that borders wreak on all of us.

Monday, May 27th, 2:00pm:
Sásabe, Sonora:
Join us for the sending forth ceremony and the 5 mile walk to our first campsite on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, June 2nd, 11:30am:
Tucson, Arizona:
Join us for the welcoming celebration as participants complete the 75-mile journey, bearing witness to the gauntlet of death that has claimed more than 7,000 men, women and children on the U.S.-México border.
Testimonies from Previous Walkers

I join the Migrant Trail Walk each year to touch back to the beautiful, awful place in the desert where many have crossed and so many have died in the crossing. I return to the Altar Valley in solidarity with migrants, with all workers, and with those friends who continue to struggle in the movement to attain justice and respect for all. I come with the blood of my immigrant grandparents in my body, and the blood of more recent immigrants on my hands -- as all of us do who live in economic and social privilege at the expense of those who are exploited and abused and killed in the name of unjust laws, racism and greed. I return to honor the courage, love of family and endurance of those who risk their lives to come north to work in our fields and cities, to feed their children, and to live here as essential members of our community. And I come away from the Trail each year with renewed energy to work toward reforming our nation's immigration policies and restoring the dream of a just and welcoming community. Somos UN Pueblo -- We are ONE people.

- Tom Kowal, 9th year walker

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Desconocido. Presente. Desconocida. Presente.  Desconocid@. Presente.   During my first Migrant Trail last year as we raised our crosses and recited Presente for those who have died crossing the desert  - I reflected on the connection between our government's policies that force people to make life or death choices for their lives. The connection between our tax payer support for violent policies throughout Latin America and the names on our crosses that we read for 7 days.

I am walking the Migrant Trail again this year because I need to remember that with which step I take - with each name I say - with each Presente - it is my participation in the system that allows this violence to continue and on the Migrant Trail I will recommit myself to the struggle to bring about an end to the injustice and work towards the day when no one will die in the desert.

- Paula Miller, 2nd year walker
Online Registration has begun!

Registration is not complete until you have completed the online registration process, and mailed your Waiver, Participant Agreement, Medical Information Form, and your payment has been received. Forms cannot be e-mailed, as we need your original signature.

Click HERE to register for the Migrant Trail 2013
 
All registration information must be received by
Friday, May 10, 2013.

The suggested donation for participating in the Migrant Trail is as follows:
April 15- May 10: $10 per day


Please send checks to:

        Arizona Border Rights Foundation
(put "Migrant Trail" in the memo field)
        P.O. Box 1286
        Tucson, AZ 85702
     
Participation:
In an effort to respect the group experience of Migrant Trail, we are only accepting participants who can commit to walking the entire week.  If you are unable to commit to the entire week, we welcome you to the sending forth ceremony on the first day, and the receiving ceremony on the last.

For more information, please contact:
migrant_trail@yahoo.com or call 520.770.1373
Narrative History of the Migrant Trail

In May 2004, the first group of walkers initiated The Migrant Trail: We Walk for Life. The idea of the walk had been discussed for a few years before the critical mass came together, coinciding with the formation of the No Más Muertes/No More Deaths movement. Principal supporting organizations in the first years were Derechos Humanos and BorderLinks. People from all over the U.S., Europe and Latin America have participated in the walk over the years. The youngest person to complete the entire walk was 13, the oldest -72.

The diverse array of nationalities, ages, and sponsoring groups that have come together time and again demonstrates the continuing, grave concern over current U.S. border and immigration policies. The importance of the walk, furthermore, has been validated from the first year when migrants who had previously crossed the desert themselves approached walk participants at the final ceremony and expressed their thanks for what we had done.  For these reasons, we continue to walk every year to express our solidarity with the migrants and to advocate for positive change in the borderlands.

Year 1:  2004

The first group to walk the Trail included a contingent of students from Colorado College, many of whom remained to volunteer the entire summer with No More Deaths. One of those students, Daniel Strauss, would be arrested the following summer and charged with transporting migrants while taking them to seek medical attention. After a protracted legal battle, charges were later dropped against Strauss and fellow volunteer, Shanti Sellz.

Also that first year, Roberto, a Guatemalan immigrant, participated in the walk. He had crossed the same desert ten years before and was granted political asylum. One of the most emotional memories of the walk was when he spoke of the tremendous suffering he had experienced in the desert. Traveling north, he mistakenly grabbed a snake thinking it was just a stick while his group ran out of water. In contrast, Migrant Trail walkers have unlimited food and water, yet still encounter difficulties. During the first walk, several walkers had to leave the walk at various times due to medical reasons. Blisters proved to be a daily nuisance. A good medical team and medical screening of walkers was therefore important from the beginning.

Year 2:  2005

For the second walk in 2005, a delegation from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) joined in the organizing. CPT has been involved in the Arizona border region ever since with their tradition of direct action and spiritual reflection. The spiritual component of the walk has always been a valuable part of the experience, as it is for the migrants themselves who face an often nightmarish journey of life and death. A ceremony has been held on the final day each year based on Native American tradition. Xavier Teso and Maria Padilla have been among the spiritual leaders of these ceremonies. Also Fr. Bob Carney has presided over a foot washing ceremony at the walk's closing.

Year 3:  2006

The 2006 walk had the largest group of walkers ever, with about 75 completing the entire walk. This led to logistical challenges, at times straining the capacity of the organizing team.
However, that same year, the Mennonite Central Committee became an integral part of organizing the walk and brought along their first delegation. The Franciscans also began a tradition of participating in the walk.  Finally, Coloradans for Immigrant Rights began to bring consistent and critical assistance and logistical support.  These groups have continued to provide consistent support ever since.

Migrant encounters are not at all uncommon on the Trail.  In 2006, while the large group was in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, a lost migrant approached the group on several occasions. The lone and demoralized man wandered through the tall grass of the refuge seeking relief and shelter. After providing him water and food, Migrant Trail organizers called the Border Patrol-at his request-because the migrant wished to return to Mexico.

Year 4:  2007

    The following year had a smaller group of walkers. A Buddhist monk participated in the walk and provided delicious Thai food on several occasions. Also, an Arizona state legislator participated in the entire walk, committing to fighting the flood of anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona. Despite strong anti-immigrant sentiment in the state and its laws, the Migrant Trail Walk has always encountered an overwhelmingly positive reception with people stopping to donate water and provide other hospitality. All meals are donated by individuals and groups who drive to the walk and serve the walkers. A group of community women, Las Promotoras de Derechos Humanos, provide a huge meal for walkers and community members who attend the final gathering in Kennedy Park.

Year 5:  2008

2008's walk including 65 walkers total, with two delegations from peace organizations including Witness for Peace and Mennonite Central Committee. The walkers' camaraderie was evident in the Friday night talent show, a favorite hallmark of each year's walk.  As there are many Migrant Trailers who return every year to walk Altar Valley, the bonds of friendship have grown deeper and stronger over the years.  Important connections are forged between diverse groups in Arizona and nationwide who are working together on migrant and human rights issues.

Year 6:  2009

The following year saw another group come together in solidarity with the migrants.  A group of Canadian students and their professor traveled to Arizona to participate.  That year was marked by much contact with migrants as the group moved through the desert.  Lost, hungry, and thirsty, our migrant companions reached out for much needed help.  Seeing this need and desperation up close only drives home the need for changes in policy in our deserts.

Year 7:  2010

The Migrant Trail 2010 took place in the midst of a frenzy of attention on Arizona's recent hardline border legislation, in particular S.B. 1070.  As the furor over the legislation boiled over locally, nationally, and internationally, another group of committed individuals slowly walked through the desert to peacefully protest the racism, ignorance, and fear behind Arizona and U.S. immigration and border policies.  This walk, perhaps more than any other year, was heavy with concern about the treatment of our neighbors from Mexico and Central America.  Here again, the week served as a strong witness to the commitment and passion of all involved to work for change.

Year 8:  2011

In 2011, we shared another incredible year together walking with new Migrant Trailers from Michigan, Peru, Canada, and Germany.  While we enjoyed each others' company, those of us who have walked for many years already lamented the long years of bad border and immigration policies.  The infamous hardline policies and laws in Arizona and Alabama continued to make national headlines, this even as the death tolls south of Tucson kept mounting.  And yet the migrants still come in search of a better life for themselves and their families.  As we left Sásabe, Sonora at the beginning of the Trail, a group of young migrants were waiting under some mesquite trees.  They were also probably fellow travelers with us in the desert that week; we will never know if they all survived their trip across the line.

Year 9:  2012

While a smaller group journeyed together for the 2012 Migrant Trail, the impact of the walk was no less powerful with smaller numbers. The soaring temperatures and physical challenges proved no match for the diverse group of 47, all unified in hope for long-needed change in U.S. borderlands policies that impact our migrant brothers and sisters, our families, communities and neighborhoods in the United States, Mexico and Central America.  On the Saturday before the walk ended, the group spontaneously gathered to discuss what the Trail meant for them.  People of diverse backgrounds and faiths were all in agreement.  No matter our differences, those of us who participate in the Migrant Trail are grateful for the community and solidarity that we experience over our 7 days together in the desert-something we wish that could be extended to all who are in our borderland.

Year 10:  2013

This is the tenth year of the walk . . . .  Sadly, hundreds of migrants continue to die every year crossing the border so the need for doing the walk has not lessened. In fact, government policies punishing migrants have only worsened, this in spite of the recent overtures for immigration policy reform. Militarization of the border is still proceeding, and our migrant compañeras and compañeros are still dying in US deserts. Once again, it's time to put one foot in front of the other and walk.

Originally prepared by Richard Boren 
Updated by Jodi Read, Kat Rodriguez and Christi Brookes