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July 12, 2006

a glimmer of hope

I think we need to match up a No More Deaths Volunteer with each member of the Colorado GOP too...
The following article which was published on www.azcentral.com

Desert-rescue tales sway GOP legislator

Apr. 7, 2006 12:00 AM

Rep. Doug Quelland stuck out as he waded through the prayer rally on the lawn of the state Capitol. And not just because of his trademark handlebar mustache.

Quelland, a Republican who represents north Phoenix, has been a reliable vote on "get-tough" immigration measures. His name is listed on several bills this session, including one that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to be charged with felony trespassing and another that seeks to deny them benefits.

They're the kinds of bills the Tuesday rally was designed to protest. The group of religious leaders asked for humane immigration reform.

But there was Quelland, who once stood on the lawn to support anti-undocumented-immigrant legislation, standing on the lawn amid people pleading for sympathy toward border crossers.

Quelland said his position on illegal immigration hasn't changed as much as it has evolved.

"I think it's good intentions," he said of the legislation introduced at the Capitol. "But I would like all the people in the House and the Senate to open dialogue and talk with people. You don't get anything done by staying uninformed."

Quelland's education was partly aided by talks with the woman who was standing next to him. She's the daughter of a longtime family friend he met at church. She was a fair-haired 22-year-old, wearing a bandanna on her head and a long prairie dress. She seemed to be constantly smiling. Her name was Maryada Vallet, and as her T-shirt indicated, she was a volunteer for No More Deaths.

That's the organization that camps out in the Arizona desert during the summer looking to rescue border crossers in distress. Two volunteers from that group are facing federal charges after they drove three undocumented immigrants to get medical attention.

Vallet, who was the class president and homecoming queen at Centennial High School in Peoria, became intensely interested in border issues while at Azusa Pacific University, a private Christian college in California. Upon graduation, she volunteered to work a summer with No More Deaths.

She said her parents were not immediately supportive of her plans, not because they feared for her safety as much as they didn't support the cause. "I had to de-mythicize a lot of this," she said. Her parents, she said, watch a lot of Fox News Network. "A lot of what they thought is what most people think about migrants."

But Vallet tells stories that put a face on the problem. She tells of Lorena, the 22-year-old she met who was crossing into the United States to make enough money to care for her sick son. She tells of Alberto, the corn farmer she found in the harsh Arizona desert. How she gives them water, tends to their blistered feet.

"It's very much like the good Samaritan," she said, referring to one of the parables told by Jesus in the New Testament.

Those tales softened her parents' views, she said. And apparently Quelland's. At least, it's made him take a second look.

"I don't know if my basic beliefs have changed," he said, "but I do know that there's some information out there that everyone should have, and they're just not getting it."

Part of it is faith based. The two share the same religious convictions, and Quelland seemed to get emotional as he heard this young Christian woman speak of her call to help the stranded in the desert.

And as we stood on the Senate lawn, and Vallet spoke of more experiences with No More Deaths, Quelland started openly weeping. "There's your story," he told me, pointing to Vallet. "Make her your story."

It will be a couple of more months before No More Deaths starts its summer saturation of the desert. Until then, the group might do some good by assigning a volunteer to each Republican member of the Arizona Legislature. A rescue mission to cool down their hearts.

Reach Ruelas at (602) 444-8473 or richard.ruelas@arizonarepublic .com.

Here is how we can help No More Deaths:

***Food and First Aid Kits Needed at the Border*** No More Deaths and Coloradans for Immigrant Rights (CFIR) need your help! We must take death out of the migration equation! The number of tragic, migrant deaths in the desert along the Arizona/Mexico border is continually increasing. Coloradans for Immigrant Rights (CFIR) is helping No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes collect the following items to distribute to migrants.

Needed Items:

For each Gallon-Sized Closable Plastic Bag, place 7-10 items, ideally 1 bag contains each of the following items:
X Sports Drink
X Pop-top lid meat or tuna
X Nuts, Trail mix, dried fruit, chips, fig bars, or cookies
X Granola, Power, or snack bars
X Pudding or fruit cup (with spoon)
X Peanut Butter or Cheese filled crackers
For each Small Closable Plastic Bag add the following items:
X 4 to 8 bandages
X Gauze Pads
X Small first aid cream or ointment
X Alcohol Wipes
X Sunscreen, Chapstick, Hand Cream or Lotion
X Foot care creams, powders, or Moleskin
X Wrapped Candy or throat lozenges
X Aspirin, Tylenol, or Advil packets

What You Can Do!
1) Create a collection drive for the above materials at your church/organization/job etc.
2) Mail kits directly to No More Deaths, c/o St. Marks Presbyterian Church, 3809 East 3rd Street, Tucson, AZ 85716.

Posted by almamia at July 12, 2006 9:40 PM


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