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ARIVACA, Ariz. — When the man walked in with fang marks on his leg, the volunteers knew the protocol: In the case of a rattlesnake bite, you call 911. But like all of the patients who end up here, his very presence in this desert clinic meant he had broken American law.

He’d been bitten sometime after he’d slipped across the southern border, while he was walking 12 miles through the arroyos and cactus-studded outcroppings in and around the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. He was hoping to reach his family in the United States; the last thing he wanted was for anyone to call the authorities.

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  • Border deaths are a very real and serious issue, and I admire the work of these volunteers. However, the consistent reference to “migrants” rather than people with names, and stories works counter to the point. For example, “when they found the cold remains of a 14-year-old girl” refers to a girl (I think her name was Josseline) travelling with her brother to meet their mother who was already in the US. Of course space is limited, but sometimes a bit of information as such allows us to see “migrants” for what they really are…people.

    • Thanks, Rachel, for your comment. I agree with you, and would have liked to use more names and specific stories. That said, the organizations profiled in this article were very concerned for the privacy of the people they work with, and so I only included the names of those who could directly give me permission to use their names.

  • Simply amazing, laudable work. No more people dying in the desert is such a worthwhile goal – thank you, thank you all for your dedication and humanity.

    • Agreed. Anyone who has taken an oath to care for the ill can see the need for this. Godspeed, and I have a new cause.

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