Online Program

Migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert into rural Arizona: Mitigating perils by providing medical assistance and humanitarian aid

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Mary Ann Kopydlowski, RN, BSN, BMC/JYP Clinic, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Jamaica Plain, MA
A morally intolerable situation inspired a remarkable humanitarian movement in southern Arizona in the spring of 2004. Driven by economic inequality, thwarted by ill-conceived US border policy, and ignorant of the harsh conditions of the Sonoran Desert, more than 4000 men, women, and children have died trying to cross the Mexican border into the United States since 1998. Diverse faith-based and social activist groups—along with concerned individuals—felt compelled to act to stem the death tide and attempt to save at least some lives. They converged to form an organization called No More Deaths. No More Deaths volunteers work in Mexico Aid Centers in three Sonora, Mexico–Arizona border communities that receive significant numbers of deportees: Nogales, Naco, and Agua Prieta. However, the heart of No More Deaths is Desert Aid: providing water, food, and medical attention in the desert migration corridor south of Tucson, in both the open desert and a fixed base camp. This photographic presentation will discuss the causes of migration: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) implemented in 1994, the maquiladora factories along the border with Mexico, and the global economy. The presenter volunteered with No More Deaths in the Desert Aid Camp in the fall of 2012. The presentation will also describe hikes into the desert to provide medical care, food, and water to migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert and medical care at the fixed base camp. It will also describe the perils, both physical/life threatening as well as legal, that migrants face.

Learning Areas:

Clinical medicine applied in public health
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Identify life and death situations that migrants face crossing the Sonoran Desert and list 4 interventions to diminish migrant deaths and improve health care on the border. Explain how a globalized economy and the North American Free Trade Agreement impacts migration. Discuss the history of No More Deaths and how it's goals and objectives alleviate migrant deaths and provide emergency health care on the border. Describe the Mexico Aid Centers that No More Deaths supports and their impact on migrant health. Describe the Desert Aid Camp, sponsored by No More Deaths, and their model for providing health care to migrants in a backcountry environment.

Keyword(s): Migrant Health, Immigration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I volunteered with No More Deaths, providing medical care to migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert, September 2012. I have been a registered nurse for 25 years, working in community health care. I visited Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico as an RN. As a nurse in Boston, I have cared for immigrants and migrants as part of my regular practice. I was a board member of the National Health Care for the Homeless Clinicians Network.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.