Left: Water aid station near Sierra Vista, AZ, courtesy of Desertinvasion.us.
I read with great dismay the news story about vandals deliberately draining water containers placed in the desert near Tuscon, AZ. A group named Humane Borders maintains the water supplies near areas where illegal immigrants are known to pass.
"We save lives by doing this," said volunteer Frank Saavedra. "I don't know how many, but if it's only one it's worth it."
Unknown persons have dumped out the containers, destroyed flags that mark their location, and have even put bullet holes in them, ostensibly to discourage illegal immigrants from crossing the border.
I recognize the deleterious effects of illegal immigration on the wages of working citizens, and I also understand the anger felt by many residents of states on or near the Mexican border.
I do not understand the mindset of a person who would sabotage a tank to deny a human being a drink of water.
Recently I saw an interview with a representative of anti-immigration group, and he said that providing medical care, water, or food to illegal immigrants was like "feeding a stray dog."
"If you feed them, they will keep coming back," he added.
I am not sure that the canine analogy is accurate (or even appropriate), but if a stray dog appeared on my property, and needed water or a meal, I would give him one. I would then call the Humane Society or the dog warden to deal with the problem.
Vandalizing humane services for illegal immigrants will not stop the flow of people across the border. This phenomenon is driven by the disparity in economic opportunities between the United States and Mexico, and illegal immigration will only end when the standard of living among Mexico's poor improves.
Destroying water supplies will, however, be likely to increase the number of dead bodies in the desert. My hope is that the water station vandals can find better ways to contribute to the problem of illegal immigration than atacking humanitarian efforts.