For many Americans, the Sonora Desert conjures up images of a summer vacation replete with tequila shots and sunshine with Toby Keith's "Stays in Mexico" song blaring in the background. But during my stay in Tucson, Arizona , I got to observe another desert story , one that isn't making the front page headlines.
While observing the volunteer training offered by the Tucson-based humanitarian aid groups, Samaritans  and No More Deaths , I was struck by how these past 10 years could be described as the decade of death on the border. All too often, these humanitarian groups find people along the border who want to provide for their families so much that they would face deportation or dying in the desert. (No More Deaths released a comprehensive study  documenting abuses they observed at the border.)
Many of the complex issues undergirding immigration legislation have already been addressed on the God's Politics blog . One question that continues to nag at me though is why the Obama administration deports more undocumented  workers per year than those who were deported annually during the Bush years. The emphasis here is on the word "worker." What used to be a pattern of seasonal migration  has turned into an immigration nightmare. Do we care so little about those who pick our food, clean our hotel rooms, and perform other menial tasks that we can turn a blind eye as the number of people who die in the desert continues to rise?
Also, in this current socio-political climate, one finds a devaluing of the gifts offered by indigenous cultures. Tom Horne, the outgoing state school's superintendent and current attorney general, declared the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD)'s ethnic studies program "illegal ." Thankfully, TUSD officials seek to repeal his decision. The school district's website describes the value of their Mexican-American studies program saying , "For Latino students, the model serves as a mirror; for non-Latino students, the model serves as a window into cultural, historical and social understanding."
Without these tiny glimpses, we would still be waiting in the dark. Thank God for the light.
Follow Becky Garrison's travels on Twitter @JesusDied4This.