The Migrant Trail is a annual journey in solidarity with undocumented migrants from Central and South America. Jodi Read, a supporter of the MWSN, will be on the Migrant Trail this year and wanted to share some of her reflections on the march. The Migrant Worker Solidarity Network is a supporter of the Migrant Trail march, which occurs annually in the United States.

I’m preparing for another Migrant Trail. Yearly since 2006, I have embarked on this 75 mile, seven day journey through the desert borderlands of Sonora and Arizona called “Migrant Trail: We Walk for Life.” We are a diverse group of walkers, more than 60 people from around the U.S., Canada and Mexico who come together to remember people who have died in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands and those who continue to come.  In our walking we feel a little of the inhumanity of the crossing and recognize the tragedy of death occurring on the land.

Each morning we wake around 5 am to disassemble camp and prepare for our daily pilgrimage. We gather in a circle to prepare our bodies, minds and spirits for walking two-by-two on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and one-by-one on the fast moving highways. We add precious water to our bottles every 1.5 miles and stop for a snack and check-in every 3 miles. This continues for the 8-16 miles that we walk each day until we arrive to Tucson. The mechanics of the trail are significant to me as an organizer but the reasons why we walk this trail are most important.

The life-sucking forces of global capitalism found in North American free trade policies displace people. Subsidence farmers in Mexico, Central America and many parts of the world cannot survive on the land in an environment of “free trade.” Factory workers earn minimal amounts making it difficult to feed their families or dream of a stable future. The pull factors of available jobs in the U.S. paying considerably more than they are able to earn in Latin America push people from their homes in pursuit of survival. Furthermore, U.S. security policy in the borderlands has created a funnel effect, impelling undocumented immigrants to cross in the desolate desert where water is scarce. Each year hundreds of migrants die in Arizona. People, who want desperately to live, instead find death in my backyard.

On the Trail, I am compelled to remember these persistent people who have crossed and those who continue to come. I walk to remember individuals like Leticia Rodriguez-Coria age 37 from Mexico who died on October 9, 2010 from  undetermined causes (For more information on migrant deaths in the desert, please see  derechoshumanosaz.net). I pray that her family may feel some comfort and that this horrendous place of death may be transformed. I pray that I, as a citizen of the U.S., may feel the weight of death so that I can advocate for change and for U.S. policies that humanize.

I am grateful for the support that the Migrant Worker Solidarity Network offers as a sponsor of the Migrant Trail this year. Connecting the realities of migrant workers across North America is a vital component of cross border solidarity.

Jodi Read
Tucson, AZ
May 25, 2011