In Arizona, heavily armed Border Patrol officers raided the medical camp of humanitarian group No More Deaths and detained 30 migrants whose whereabouts are now unknown. It was the second raid in just two days on the camp, which provides water, food and medical attention to refugees crossing into the United States through the scorching Sonoran Desert. “Immediately after they entered the camp, the first thing they did was round up all of the No More Deaths aid workers and zip-tie them, remove their phones,” says Montana Thames, a humanitarian aid worker with No More Deaths. “It was very clear they didn’t want any witnesses.” No More Deaths also recently published documents revealing the Border Patrol Union, a pro-Trump and anti-immigrant extremist group, had instigated a 2017 raid of the same camp.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we end the today’s show in Arizona, where heavily armed Border Patrol officers raided a medical camp of humanitarian group No More Deaths Friday, detained 30 migrants, whose whereabouts are still unknown. It was the second raid in just two days on the camp, which provides water, food and medical attention to refugees crossing into the United States through the scorching Sonoran Desert — the raids carried out by the Border Patrol’s BORTAC teams, the same militarized special operation units recently deployed to suppress protests in Portland, Oregon. They came after No More Deaths published documents revealing the Border Patrol Union, a pro-Trump and anti-immigrant extremist group, had instigated a 2017 raid of the same camp.
For more, we go to Tucson and are joined by Montana Thames, one of the humanitarian aid workers with No More Deaths.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Montana. What happened last Friday?
Sorry, we don’t hear you, Montana. We’re trying to bring up your audio.
MONTANA THAMES: Hi.
AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.
MONTANA THAMES: Hi, Amy. Can you hear me now?
AMY GOODMAN: We can, yes.
MONTANA THAMES: OK, great. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
But like you said, it was a military-style raid that happened on Friday. They had been surveilling, 24/7 surveillance, since Thursday morning on the camp. They had about 24 Border Patrol agent trucks come in. There was a helicopter 200 feet above the camp. They had a BORTAC BearCat tank enter the camp, alongside BORTAC agents with huge assault rifles walking into the camp. They were the first wave to neutralize any threat. But there was ATVs, drones. The whole shebang came out to neutralize this big threat.
But immediately after they entered the camp, the first thing they did was round up all of the No More Deaths aid workers and zip-tie them, remove their phones. It was very clear they didn’t want any witnesses for what they were about to do next.
The aid workers were able to overhear from the Border Patrol radios that there was chasing of migrants happening around them. They described the accounts they were hearing on the radios as violent and scary. And Border Patrol, after they seized 30-plus migrants that were seeking food and medical attention, they proceeded to completely trash the camp. They slashed all of our tents. They slashed people’s personal tents. They overturned anything that we had. They slashed open cots. A complete ransack of the place. They took all of our medical records and all of our phones that were in the office and on volunteers, for evidence. They disconnected the only water source that the camp has, which volunteers found later.
They did all this in a flash. They didn’t show any warrant at first. And when they did show the warrant, the one thing that volunteers noticed was that on the warrant, under items to be seized, it said “illegal aliens,” so meaning migrants. And so, it just showed that they viewed the migrants as objects to be seized from the premises. And it just like further proves their justification of dehumanizing migrants to justify their violence.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Montana, we only have about a minute left, but if you could talk about this whole issue of them raiding you just after you released a report, similar to what happened back in 2017, when a raid happened after you released a report?
MONTANA THAMES: Yeah. So, in 2017, we released the Disappeared, Part 2, and about four hours later, Dr. Scott Warren was apprehended. This time, this was less than 24 hours. So, we released this report — released documents on Wednesday at about 11 a.m. And the first time they entered camp without a warrant was on Thursday around 8 or 9 a.m. So, less than 24 hours later, they started their intimidation tactics and surveillance.
AMY GOODMAN: And this was BORTAC, the same unit, the kind — the same group that has been going after Black Lives Matter in places like Portland, Oregon? We have five seconds.
MONTANA THAMES: Yes, yes, it was BORTAC.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank so you much, Montana Thames, for joining us, humanitarian aid worker with No More Deaths. And we’ll continue to show what happens there, and people can go to our website at democracynow.org to get our interviews with Scott Warren after he was arrested.
That does it for our show. Democracy Now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Libby Rainey, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Carla Wills, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Stay safe. Saves lives. Wear a mask.