No More Deaths provides humanitarian aid across several different public land jurisdictions, from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to the National Park Service, to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Each of these public lands agencies partners with the US Border Patrol in doing immigration control and drug interdiction, while also engaging in their own efforts to pick up trash left behind by undocumented border crossers and protect natural resources from degradation caused by border enforcement and smuggling activities. In their effort to “clean up” public lands, land managers broadly define litter to include humanitarian supplies, such as water, food, and blankets, left by No More Deaths and other humanitarian groups. These efforts, therefore, serve not only to restrict the provision of humanitarian aid but also to erase all evidence of the presence of undocumented border crossers and their passage across the landscape. While the scale of this dual apprehension and erasure effort has reached unprecedented levels in recent decades, it is by no means new. Throughout the twentieth century, these same public land management agencies worked both to physically remove and erase the presence of local Anglo ranchers, Native Americans, and neighboring Mexicans. Contemporary efforts of removal and erasure of undocumented border crossers, therefore, are part of a long lineage of defining who belongs and who does not belong on these public lands. In this article, I argue that the work of No More Deaths also has dual roles, as it both provides direct humanitarian aid to undocumented border crossers and works to counter the erasure effort of public land managers.
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Scott Warren; In Defense of Wilderness: Policing Public Borderlands. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2017; 116 (4): 863–872. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-4235073
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