Tucson Samaritans provide water, food, first aid, and other essential items to migrants who cross the border in southern Arizona. Our goal is to alleviate the suffering of people who are making the arduous journey to a better life across the harsh Sonoran desert. Tucson Samaritans is a grassroots, volunteer-run, humanitarian aid organization. Join us in our work to provide aid and support to those in need by volunteering or making a donation.
OUR MISSION & HISTORY
Our mission: to save lives and relieve suffering of migrants in Southern Arizona
Tucson Samaritans was founded in 2002 by people concerned about the well-being of migrants who were crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Our work has remained the same for over two decades: provide humanitarian aid to help prevent suffering and death in the inhospitable Sonoran desert in southern Arizona. We believe that every person deserves dignity and respect, regardless of their citizenship status or country of origin.
The work of Tucson Samaritans is “civil initiative.” We work openly in support of U.S. laws that we believe our government is not following and in opposition to laws that we believe are causing suffering and death. Tucson Samaritans was founded by people who were instrumental in developing the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s. We do our work in full transparency to the Border Patrol and other governmental agencies. Learn more about civil initiative here.
Since 1994, the U.S. government has tried to stop unauthorized border crossings through a policy called Prevention Through Deterrence, explicitly seeking to force migrants to walk dozens of miles through desolate desert to make the journey as dangerous as possible. Prevention Through Deterrence has failed to decrease migration and has resulted in thousands of deaths. As of December 31, 2023, the remains of 4,167 migrants have been recovered in southern Arizona; thousands more people are presumed to have died on both sides of the border from California to Texas and their remains yet to be found.
Tucson Samaritans believe that Prevention Through Deterrence violates other U.S. laws and obligations that serve to protect people fleeing poverty, violence, oppression, or whatever other factors are so severe that people believe their best choice is to leave their homes and families to seek a better life.
Since the very first Samaritans trip on July 1, 2002, we have aided thousands of people who cross the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona. Samaritans provide water to prevent dehydration from desert heat, treat sprains and other injuries, bandage severely blistered feet (potentially life-threatening as people who cannot walk are often left behind), call for emergency medical services for people with life-threatening issues such as severe dehydration, and offer blankets on cold nights. Far too often we have discovered the remains of migrants who have perished.
Many individuals we encounter are seeking asylum. When Samaritans encounter asylum-seekers, we call Border Patrol at their request and wait with them until agents arrive — sometimes waiting for up to 10 hours.
Tucson Samaritans travel the desert most every day. In an average month, we place 800 gallons of water and 50 pounds of food in the desert.
Tucson Samaritans is an all-volunteer organization that has no hierarchy and makes decisions via consensus.
Tucson Samaritans is a mission of Tucson’s Southside Presbyterian Church.