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AZ Protesters Call for Border "Demilitarization

PHOTO: Reducing the buildup of law-enforcement personnel and equipment on Arizona's border with Mexico is the goal of protesters holding events in several border communities today. Photo courtesy of People Helping People on the Border.
PHOTO: Reducing the buildup of law-enforcement personnel and equipment on Arizona's border with Mexico is the goal of protesters holding events in several border communities today. Photo courtesy of People Helping People on the Border.
May 27, 2015

ARIVACA, Ariz. - Protesters in several of Arizona's border communities are holding events today, calling on the federal government to demilitarize the U.S. border with Mexico.

Eva Lewis, a volunteer with the group People Helping People in the Border Zone, will be at the protest event in Arivaca, about 10 miles north of the border. She said huge border fences erected in other communities have caused undocumented immigrants to cross the treacherous, even deadly desert south of Arivaca.

"A lot of community members out hiking the hills around their homes have found dead bodies," she said. "We as border residents are dealing with this human tragedy all around us every day. I've had people knock on my door who haven't seen another human, spoken to another human, or drank water - clean water - in over 15 days."

Lewis said events also are being held today in Ajo, Bisbee, Patagonia, Sells and Tucson.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is among those who say big numbers of Border Patrol agents and other resources are needed to protect and secure the border. However, Lewis said the huge buildup of law-enforcement personnel and equipment, and Border Patrol checkpoints such as the one at Arivaca, have caused racial profiling of local residents.

"It is causing a lot of racial profiling of residents who have to pass through this checkpoint on a daily basis," she said. "So, children on their way to school have to pass through the checkpoint, which we don't want our kids growing up thinking that it's normal to have to stop and talk to armed agents on their way to school."

Lewis said the border situation also has crippled tourism in the area because some people don't want to be stopping at Border Patrol checkpoints.

More information on People Helping People in the Border Zone is online at phparivaca.org. Information on planned events is at bordercommunityaction.org.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ