Scott Daniel Warren, an instructor at Arizona State University and a volunteer with an immigrant-aid group No More Deaths, was arrested last week on federal charges for harboring undocumented immigrants.
The arrest came mere hours after No More Deaths released videos that should have produced mass public disgrace and obloquy against the Border Patrol, showing them emptying out water bottles left in the desert to help save the lives of people who might be dying of thirst. This is apparently seen as an essential law enforcement practice to the Border Patrol since some people whose lives might be saved might have entered the country illegally.
As 12News, an NBC station in Arizona, reported, "Warren was arrested Wednesday after agents conducted surveillance on a building in Ajo where two immigrants were given food, water, beds and clean clothes."
The Arizona Republic's website reports that Warren's attorney, William Walker, says that Warren and the group "don't smuggle [immigrants], we don't do anything to help them enter the United States, we do nothing illegal…This place that they raided is not in the middle of the desert, it's not hidden anywhere. It's in the city of Ajo, and it's been used for a long time, not to help smuggle migrants, but to give medical care and food and water."
The Arizona Daily Star's website notes that No More Deaths finds the timing of the arrest, hours after the video showing the Border Patrol's monstrous destruction of life-saving water, suspicious and possibly retaliatory for their attempt to embarrass them.
Thousands have died crossing the deserts around the U.S. southern border in the past couple of decades. The UK Guardian reports that in 2005, an attempt to prosecute No More Deaths volunteers for transporting three immigrants to a Tucson church to get medical attention had their indictments tossed by a federal judge.
Someone in the judicial system should have the same wisdom to bring this attempt to prosecute Warren for trying to live up to a simple human duty to a quick halt, especially from an agency that acts in ways they know will lead to human deaths over the "crime" of entering this country without proper papers.
[UPDATE: No More Deaths announced in an emailed press release on Jan. 24 that in addition to Warren's felony harboring charge, he and seven other No More Deaths workers have been hit with "federal misdemeanor charges relating to their work with the organization in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a vast and remote stretch of land near Ajo, AZ that shares 56 miles with the US-Mexico border…The preliminary charges for each of the eight individuals are varied and include "driving on a wilderness area," "abandonment of property," and "entering a wildlife refuge without a permit." The charges come amidst an escalation of interference toward No More Deaths and its efforts to provide humanitarian aid in the deadly migration corridor.]
The video that should shame the Border Patrol: