Everyone in our group of 52 people wakes up at 3 a.m. It’s Thursday, May 30, and we are at a campsite on the northern edge of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, approximately 25 miles from the international border and 40 miles southwest of Tucson. The group is used to getting up early, but on this day, with 16 miles to cover, we need to beat our normal 5 a.m. start.
We have already been walking for three days, but this is the toughest day of the Migrant Trail Walk—a 75-mile, seven-day hike from the U.S.-Mexico border at Sasabe to Tucson. This is the 10th annual walk, which brings participants from Southern Arizona and around the world to walk in solidarity with the more than 6,000 migrants whose remains have been recovered in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands since the mid-1990s. The desert south of Tucson has been one of the deadliest places for unauthorized border-crossers.