Agony and Ecstasy on the Border

Yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Sierra Club field organizer and No More Deaths activist Dan Millis’s conviction for littering on public lands. Millis had been leaving sealed jugs of water along migrant trails in order to save the lives of suffering migrants in 2009, when he was issued a citation for littering. Although Millis, along with organizations from No More Deaths to Derechos Humanos, professed that sealed jugs of water left with a distinct intention towards use does not constitute “littering,” his citation was upheld by a bench trial.
Believing that his case represented an important precedent for further humanitarian aid to migrants, Millis appealed the decision, risking a possible $1,000 fine and 6 months in prison. To everyone’s good fortune, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in a 2-to-1 verdict that Millis’s actions did not constitute “littering.” This year is the deadliest year for border deaths since 2005, showing that increased militarization is not slowing human trafficking, it is only making it more deadly. As the border wall and heightened paramilitary presence pushes migrants further into the desert (especially Buenos Aires Nation Wildlife Refuge, or BANWR), migrant trails and trash continue to progressively destroy important ecosystems, along with the border wall itself and government and paramilitary vehicles. See Sierra Club – Borderlands Campaign, for more information.

In other news, residents of Tucson are currently involved in a new battle against a newly proposed copper mine in what some perceive to be one of the most scenic locations in the world. Canadian mining company, Gold Hawk Resources Inc., has purchased the rights to an abandoned mine owned by Oracle Ridge Mining near Mt. Lemmon. The mine would pull out 20-50 tons of copper per day in close proximity to the lush, rare sky island of Mount Lemmon, and would operate simultaneously with the Rosemont open pit mine currently prospected for 2012 in the Santa Ritas, situating Tucson in the middle of two intensive copper mines.

In one comment on the Tucson Citizen’s website, a reader stated: “Can you imagine what the road coming down Mt. Lemmon look like with rocks flying off of the trucks! [sic] It’s OK just to have our cars drive slow down Mt Lemmon or just stop your cars near their entrance. Road blocks!!!”

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