Saving lives is a goal of a woman from Dover church who provides aid

DOVER – Every year, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Belinda Lentz leaves her home to travel to Arizona, where she provides support for migrants crossing the country’s southern border through the Sonoran Desert.

She works with an aid group whose members occupy diverse points on the political spectrum.

“Some of them think that the migrants have no business crossing our borders and coming into our country,” Lentz said. “Some of them believe that we should be standing at the border, welcoming them with open arms. No matter what opinion they have, they still work together. Their main goal is to save lives on the desert.”

Belinda Lentz displayed artifacts gathered from her visits to the US / Mexico border when she spoke at the Dover Public Library on Tuesday.

As of November, 3,790 immigrants have died trying to cross the Arizona / Sonoran Desert, according to Humane Borders, Inc., a nonprofit that makes water and other lifesaving resources available to migrants on both sides of the border.

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Lentz, director of Christian education at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Dover, shared her experiences at the border on Tuesday at the Dover Public Library.

She talked about people she met, including a man who crafts brightly-colored crosses he plants in the desert to mark the places where migrants have died.

Lentz helped to install a cross for a young woman named Rosalia, who passed while traveling.

“She had given her daughters the last of her water, then she died,” Lentz said. “No one knows what happened to her daughters. And that was 20 years ago.”

Belinda Lentz has been visiting the US / Mexico border since 2013. She is director of Christian education for St.  John's United Church of Christ in Dover.

Lentz talked about the medical examiner of Pima County, Arizona, whose office works to identify the deceased and provide closure to their families.

She talked about a man who went before an immigration judge and asked if he could be imprisoned in North Carolina, because that’s where his children were. Another asked to be sent to the same prison as his brother, who appeared at the same mass immigration hearing.

Belinda Lentz has been visiting the US / Mexico border since 2013. She is director of Christian education for St.  John's United Church of Christ in Dover.

She showed photos of a makeshift kitchen that fed 100 people every morning. At the feeding station, a nun tries to discourage people from trying to cross.

There are many ways to die in the attempt. Lentz told the story about one woman who scaled the border wall, only to die after she became trapped upside down. A man died after falling and breaking his leg. On one side of the spot where he died, there were people working in a copper mine. On the other side, there were houses with lights on.

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