Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Empathy on Trial: Trump Admin Targets Those Who Help the Undocumented Stay Alive

by Nomad

A controversial case in Arizona illustrates the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy on humanitarian assistance for undocumented migrants.

Humanitarians on Trial?

A jury in Tucson Arizona went to deliberations on Friday in the criminal trial of Scott Warren. Warren, a volunteer for the humanitarian aid organization No More Deaths, is charged with two felony counts of harboring illegal immigrants and one count of conspiracy to transport the two men. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

The 36-year-old geography professor was arrested in January 2018 by federal agents at a location used by aid organizations trying to stem what volunteers have called a "humanitarian crisis." The volunteers leave water and food for migrants traversing the Arizona desert.
The government claims this is a form of encouragement for illegal migration across the border. Warren's organization claims it is only a matter of helping people survive a desert death trap.

In 2018 alone, the remains of 127 dead migrants were recovered in southern Arizona. That was one short of the previous year's figure. Since 2000, more than 3,000 migrant remains have been found along the Arizona-Mexico border.

At his trial, prosecutors claimed that Warren was actually part of a criminal smuggling operation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Wright said that that evidence that migrants were dying in the desert was a "smokescreen and a distraction."

For his own part, Warren has said that he believes the government is violating his right to religious freedom by criminalizing his spiritual belief that mandates he help people in distress.
"Tt is scary to be intimidated like this and to be targeted but there really is no choice."
If the jury decides against Warren, all humanitarian aid groups helping migrants to survive the border crossings may be liable for prosecution.

For more on this story, click on the link below.


Public Radio International (PRI) has an informative podcast on the controversial issue, available in the link below.