Humanitarian groups are accusing the United States border patrol of consistently smashing water bottle and vandalizing supplies intended to see migrants from south of the border safely across the desert.
According to the Guardian, two groups in Tucson, No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos, sent volunteers to compile a report published Wednesday. The report claims they found water gallons left out for people walking from Mexico sabotaged 415 times within an 800 square mile area of the Sonoran desert, between March 2012 to December 2015, affecting 3,586 gallons. They have also said that agents routinely vandalize food and blankets, and harassed their volunteers.
Though the urgency of the report was pushed by Donald Trump’s revived push for a border wall and other attacks on immigrants, researchers stress that this practice has been a systematized aspect of border patrol for years:
“The practice of destruction of and interference with aid is not the deviant behavior of a few rogue border patrol agents, it is a systemic feature of enforcement practices in the borderlands.”
Though some destruction of water could be attributed to wildlife, or rogue hunters and militia, the report stated only border patrol had full access to the region. One anonymous former agent told volunteers that learning to destroy water was part of the job.
“I remember people smashing and stepping on water bottles, I remember that being imparted onto us in one way or another,” they said.