People Helping People in the Borderzone

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People Helping People in the Borderzone is doing community-led organizing around a timely issue: working to normalize humanitarian aid in an increasingly high-stakes and challenging environment. People Helping People is building a movement not only across border communities but also across different communities within Arivaca, who experience the impacts of border militarization in their everyday lives.

P.O. Box 826
Arivaca, AZ 85601


We are residents of the rural border town of Arivaca, Arizona who provide direct crisis-relief to people who are walking across the desert through our town in order to immigrate. We work together for the protection of human life, regardless of immigration status. We organize to stop Border Patrol abuse and to demilitarize the border.


A small group of Arivaca residents opened their aid office in 2012, and quickly residents came to look for support and talk about abusive encounters with Border Patrol, which People Helping People (PHP) began to document. PHP’s accomplishments since include providing aid to thousands of people, cultivating a community of humanitarian aid advocates, an ongoing harm-reduction solidarity project in Northern Mexico, and a border community coalition. For five years, PHP has campaigned against the Arivaca road checkpoint, monitoring and documenting racial profiling there, and is currently touring a documentary they created about the campaign and rural organizing.

The Issues:

Arivaca residents frequently encounter people who have been walking in the desert for a week or more. Before the aid office, the only option for crisis management was to call border patrol. PHP faces the mounting challenge of the criminalization of humanitarian aid under the current administration as well as a growing tension between PHP’s community and outside militia groups. PHP’s current aid office does not have a bathroom nor running water, which hinders patient care.

Constituency and Leadership:

Arivaca is a poor rural border community below a system of checkpoints. PHP is an all-volunteer, consensus-based group of Arivaca residents. They are comprised of 8-15 residents of of ages, genders, sexualities and religions, and they hold Sunday meetings that are open to the community. All of PHP’s projects come from the needs of those directly impacted by the border.

Tackling Oppressive Structures:

Opportunities for discussions about racism and neocolonialism come up frequently due to militia and Border Patrol presence in Arivaca, as well as discussion of the root causes of migration often resulting from U.S. imperialism. Several of PHP’s members are immigrants or were born of immigrants. PHP notes that a large part of their work is supporting and standing in solidarity with folks suffering heavy consequences of U.S. racism and the weaponization of the desert.

Movement Building:

PHP collaborates with No More Deaths, a Tucson-based humanitarian presence in Arivaca, and Ajo Samaritans on protocols and Northern Mexico solidarity strategy.  PHP has worked to build a coalition of border communities, including Ajo Samaritans, Green Valley Samaritans, TOHRN from the Tohono O’odham Nation, with whom they collaborate on checkpoint monitoring campaigns and denounce border militarization.


PHP aims to expand their capacity in a variety of ways, but also plans to continue providing consistent Spanish classes to Arivaca residents, in addition to Know Your Rights trainings and First Aid classes. They aim to organize more community film screenings of politically relevant films after which they host critical conversations about the content and relationships to the borderlands. They are also working to build resilience in high-stress situations through regular wellness days.

Long-term Vision for Change:

PHP’s long-term vision includes strong organizing entities in rural and urban border towns that stand in solidarity with people seeking asylum, and economic and climate refugees crossing the international border. Their longer-term vision is the demilitarization of the border and the end of modern-day imperialism that makes staying in one’s country of origin an impossibility.

Organization Budget:  $25,400
Request: $10,000

Raised to date this week:  $3,035

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