Migrant Trail Walk ends for participants on 75-mile trek

Published: Jun. 4, 2017 at 9:27 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 5, 2017 at 8:53 AM MST
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Source: KOLD
Source: KOLD

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The journey is long and arduous. But that's the point when you're mimicking the struggle.

"It's a way to remember and think about all the men, women, and children who have died and lost their lives making this treacherous journey," Olivia Mena said.

She's one of the organizers of the Migrant Trail Walk, now in its 14th year. The 75-mile trek through the Sonoran Desert, culminated with a ceremony Sunday morning, June 4, on the southwest side of Tucson at John F. Kennedy Park.

The Migrant Trail Walk started with about 50 participants, walking from Sásabe, Sonora to Tucson.

There were several first-time participants like Judy Stavely.

"We didn't get lost. And it just made me think, 'What about the people that don't have the support that we have?'" she told the crowd at the park.

They were honoring thousands who have not survived, who were trying to start a better life. According to the group, more than 7,000 people have lost their lives crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since the 1990s.

In a news release, the group said the Migrant Trail Walk is "happening in the midst of increasing national efforts by the new U.S. administration to dramatically expand border policing, technology, and infrastructure in the southwest borderlands, and its proposal to build a new border wall to further seal the border with Mexico."

Participants said they were each walking for something or someone, as they shared testimony of their reasoning with the crowd.

In Saulo Padilla's case, his nephew was on his mind.

"Kevin Garcia was 19 years old," Padilla said. "He was jumping on a train in Oaxaca, Mexico. He fell, tripped on the tracks, and was killed by the train."

Padilla said his nephew was on a journey to leave Guatemala and make his way to the U.S. It's one of the reasons Padilla, who lives in Indiana, chose to do the Migrant Trail Walk for a seventh straight year. He said not much is physically different about the border from when he first started, but he has a different mentality.

"I've been changed. I have been changed more by coming here and what is happening here. I have become more welcoming of people," Padilla said.

He is now someone who marches for immigration reform, wanting administrations to change, both foreign and domestic.

"Every step [on the walk] is a challenge to governments, and policies. Not only here, but in Latin America, as well. For governments that aren't taking care of their people. And one of them was Kevin Garcia."

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