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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.


Up to 14 times each week, Tucson Samaritans volunteers — including fluent Spanish speakers, medical providers, wilderness first responders, and many whose primary skills are compassion and commitment — travel into the desolate desert south of Tucson. We own two 4WD vehicles to navigate back roads and rough terrain. These vehicles carry water, food, emergency medical supplies, communication equipment, maps, and other items necessary for survival in the desert. Most trips last between eight and twelve hours.

Water Trips

Samaritans trips include “water buffalo” trips, designed to place 30-50 gallons in a day along frequently-used trails. Other water trips check drops two to three miles away from the nearest vehicle access point. We remove any trash that results from our work as well as items migrants discard along the way, to maintain a healthy desert.

Exploratory Trips

Samaritans undertake regular exploratory hiking trips, to look for trails not previously known or to look for signs of changing migration routes and identifying new locations to place water and food. Exploratory trips tend to be more physically demanding, hiking four to eight miles in rugged desert terrain. 

Cross Trips

Every week, Tucson Samaritan Alvaro Enciso travels to the locations where migrants’ remains have been found, to plant crosses as part of his long-running art installation project  “Donde Mueren Los Sueños” — Where Dreams Die. For Alvaro, each cross is a reflection of the brutality of death by exposure, like those sentenced to die by crucifixion during the Roman Empire. Alvaro and his fellow Samaritans have planted more than 1,600 crosses across Southern Arizona.

Assisting Asylum Seekers

Since November 2023, large groups of asylum seekers have been crossing the border south of Tucson, to await Border Patrol (sometimes for up to 24 hours) to detain and process them. Temperatures fall below freezing at night for many months. If this continues into summer, asylum seekers will await Border Patrol in temperatures above 100ºF.


For as long as asylum seekers continue to cross and wait, Tucson Samaritans and other aid groups will be providing food, water, blankets, and other essentials to 100-400 people every day.

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Tucson Samaritans focus on a 1,500-square-mile area, with Tucson at the north and the border towns of Nogales and Sasabe at the southeast and southwest corners. While some of the area is the flat Altar Valley, most of it is mountainous, including the eastern side of the Baboquivari Mountains, the San Luis Mountains, the Las Guijas Mountains, and the mountains of the Pajarita Wilderness. We maintain humanitarian aid drops in many Sonoran desert canyons as well. 



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