Sharing Food with Migrants Is a Charitable Act To be Praised, Not Criminalized

Americans have long provided migrants with food and water. Why are we now treating that like a crime?


Scott Warren, a geographer from Arizona, is currently on trial in federal court. He's charged with human trafficking and other crimes.

Scott Warren sounds like a bad hombre. But Scott Warren is actually a good hombre.

Last year, Warren joined with other volunteers along the U.S.-Mexico border to provide food and water to migrants traversing the desert, where migrants can easily die of thirst, exposure, and other causes. (Occasionally, as happened in April, migrants also die crossing the Canadian border.)

Warren and his fellow volunteers knew that providing food and water can help save lives. So that's what they did.

In an account in the Washington Post this week, Warren details how border patrol agents set upon him and two migrants he was aiding. The agents arrested the migrants. Then they arrested Warren.

"Agents also handcuffed and arrested me, for—in the agency's words—having provided the two migrants with 'food, water, clean clothes, and beds,'" Warren says.

Warren, who deserves thanks from every American, faces up to 20 years in federal prison for his acts of charity.

Warren volunteers with the southern Arizona-based community and faith-based coalition No More Deaths, which works "to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert" along the border. That mission has put No More Deaths in the proverbial crosshairs of law enforcement officials. Warren was arrested soon after No More Deaths posted a video of U.S. Border Patrol agents knocking over and emptying water jugs placed in the desert to aid migrants.

In January, four members of No More Deaths were found guilty on misdemeanor charges that brought fines and possible jail time. They were found to have failed to obtain permits to enter federal lands, and violating other rules. Another quartet was found guilty of similar charges in March. Others had their charges dropped after agreeing to pay fines.

It's clear the charges against Scott Warren and the others are, literally and figuratively, trumped up.

Cracking down on immigration and immigrants is one of many sordid hallmarks of President Donald Trump's administration. But the Trump administration isn't just barring people like Warren from sharing food with migrants. It's also failing to adequately feed and care for migrants it places in custody—sometimes with tragic results. Jakelin Caal Maquin died while in federal government custody, I wrote last year. "Reports suggest [the seven-year old] may have died from a lack of food and water."

Maquin is one of at least seven migrant children to die in U.S. government custody.

It's hard to see how implementing immigration policies that kill people "serves the national interest."

The Trump administration didn't invent awful immigration policies. Neither does it have a monopoly on criminalizing the sharing of food. In fact, the trumped-up charges against Scott Warren and others are just the latest evidence that politicians are increasingly intolerant of those who engage in the simple act of sharing food with those in need.

A slew of big U.S. cities—Houston, Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, New York City, Philadelphia, Dallas, and San Antonio, to name a few—have criminalized sharing food with the homeless and others in need, as I've discussed in numerous columns and detail in my recent bookBiting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable.

These draconian federal and local policies run counter to American values. There's a long history in this country of private charities, individuals, and businesses feeding those in need, including migrants.

"Organizations such as the Italian Welfare League in New York distributed food to newly arrived immigrants in need," writes Hasia Diner in her 2001 book Hungering for America: Italian, Irish, and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration. "Relying upon local food merchants for donations, volunteers for charity distributed… 'food that Italians like.'"

That's the America—and the Americans—I know. Aiding those in need shows America at her best. Prosecuting Scott Warren, and others who save migrant lives, shows us at our worst.

NEXT: Libertarians Forged an Alliance With Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Was It a Deal With the Devil?

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  1. We all now all arms of Government Almighty… If we want to stay on the good side of Government Almighty, we have been drafted (enslaved, and w/o pay) to be enforcement agents, at least to the extent that we MUST say “proper papers please” before we help anyone, in any way! If I open a door, or push an elevator button, for an illegal sub-human, w/o first saying “proper papers please”, I had better run like hell, in case an ICE agent saw me!

    1. Also please beware that the “Misprision” legal doctrine REQUIRES you to be an unpaid snitch for Government Almighty! Depending on how many lawyers you can afford, you might be jailed for having NOT reported an illegal sub-human!

      From there…

      “Misprision of felony” is still an offense under United States federal law after being codified in 1909 under 18 U.S.C. § 4:

      Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

  2. Possibly someone in the government sees it as like someone offering a lift to a bank robber. If you accept that people ignoring legal process are not completely innocent, then helping them is enabling illegal acts.

    1. I am told that some folks ignore the legal process, and blow on cheap plastic flutes (“lung flutes”), w/o the proper authorization from Government-Almighty-blessed doctors of doctorology. If you know what is good for you, do NOT assist such criminal flute-blowers in ANY way! Don’t feed them, open a door for them, press an elevator button for them… NOTHING! Do NOT be an assistant to vile criminal scum-vermin!!!

      To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

  3. —“Americans have long provided migrants with food and water. Why are we now treating that like a crime?”—

    It’s not “we” who are treating it like a crime. Trumpistas(*) are the ones who want to treat giving food and shelter to brown people like a crime.

    (*)The scum that the scum of the Earth scrape off its shoes.

    1. Go fuck your racist implications. All it does is show you’re incapable of even limited rational arguments.

      1. Your response was rational?

      2. Aww, someone’s a little testy today!

        Perhaps you could explain something for me, Jesse. Why is it that the welfare that is consumed by foreigners generates a disproportionate amount of outrage among the Trumpistas? We both know that MOST welfare is consumed by native-born citizens. But the small fraction that is not, makes the Trumpsters downright apoplectic. Why is that? Some might observe this tendency and say “oh, it’s because of racism or bigotry”. But if that’s not the reason, then what is?

        1. Because it’s your fantasy.
          You’ve yet to display any indication that you’re capable of comprehending anything outside your significantly limited worldview. You idealize a caricature of what you imagine to be the argument of those who don’t agree with you and apply it to every sentence. It’s like English is not your native language.
          Always pregnant with strawmen.

          1. Do you think insulting me is going to make your argument correct?

            So if I’m wrong, explain how I’m wrong.

            I observe that the right-wing outrage over welfare is not uniform. Immigrants who consume welfare get a disproportionate share of the outrage, even though the welfare consumed by immigrants is a tiny fraction of the overall welfare spending.

            Why is the outrage disproportionate, Nardz?

            1. Do you think insulting me is going to make your argument correct?

              So if I’m wrong, explain how I’m wrong.

              Pointing out your stupidity explains why trying to explain to you why you’re wrong is futile. Matthew 7:6

              1. Neither one of you are willing to address the question. Huh I wonder why.

                Insulting me doesn’t make the ugly truth go away.

                My hypothesis is that right-wingers tend to get outraged over welfare not because they are opposed to welfare per se, but because they think the “wrong people” are taking advantage of welfare. And the “wrong people” are people who are different than they are. So welfare going to foreigners sends the outrage meter to eleventy, but welfare in the form of farm subsidies gets maybe just mild opprobrium, even if the latter is far larger than the former.

                The important point though is that they fundamentally DON’T view welfare as theft per se, like libertarians do.

                1. And then they tore my legs off and threw them over THERE!

                2. Your hypothesis is based on your own fantasies, themselves motivated by your feelings of resentment and personal inadequacy.
                  One doesn’t argue with psychotics, chemjeff – one simply points out your delusions

            2. See, here it is again–

              I observe that the right-wing outrage over welfare is not uniform. Immigrants who consume welfare get a disproportionate share of the outrage, even though the welfare consumed by immigrants is a tiny fraction of the overall welfare spending.

              You left off the word ‘illegal’.

              Why is the outrage disproportionate, Nardz?

              Because you left off the word illegal.

              Libertarians have issues with the entirety of welfare–but there is a disproportionate ire that goes towards those who are illegal immigrants who get welfare.

              See, we extend welfare to citizens in the hope that they will come through their troubles and become productive citizens once again.

              And we will extend welfare to legal immigrants, legal refugees, an legal asylum seekers, in the hope that this help might aid them in becoming productive citizens.

              They respect our laws and honor our ways.

              But illegal immigrants take that which could be put towards those we WANT to help, those we seek to help– and they squander them.

              THAT is why there is more outrage towards illegal immigrants using welfare than there is towards citizens and legal immigrants who use such.

  4. If Jesus Christ was alive today, and fed loaves of bread and fishes to a crowd of 4,000… There would doubtlessly likely be there among them, illegal sub-humans, w/o proper permission from Government Almighty, to be where they are, or to supplied with something to eat… Or even, to breathe, perhaps?

    In any case, in our “Judaeo-Christian” founded nation, today, Jesus would be serving 20 years in prison, for feeding the crowd!

    1. Hello, SQRLSY One,

      The tikki torch-carrying Trumpistas would be the first to nail the Globalist(*) Nazarene to the cross if they could, if Jesus was arrested for helping immigrants today.

      (*) Code for “Jew” in Trumpista-ese.

      1. I see the bigotry is out in force today. Call your enemies racist and then go pretend you’re Christian to attack them morally. You’ve never read the bible, so stop pretending you understand it

        1. I know how to treat others the way that I would like to be treated. It’s that simple. “Others” includes those that evil people like to call illegal sub-humans, and so forth. If “others to be treated as we like to be treated”, in your “ethics”, does NOT include those born on the wrong side of the railroad tracks (river, mountains, invisible lines in the sand, yada-yada), then WHERE did you get your so-called “ethics”? God? Evolution? The cosmos? Karma? Democracy? Keep in mind that our “democracy” has blessed slavery, Jim Crow, no votes for women, concentration camps for Japanese-Americans, and on and on…


          I have repeatedly asked this question (especially with regards to illegal humans), and I NEVER get answers from the bigots!!!


            Near the dog in the manger.


            Dont ask me SQRLSY.

            I’m Jewish.

            We been kinda wondering about that since Mt. Sinai.

            I think it is a hospital in Baltimore now.

    2. Athiest who invoke jesus are the biggest idiots on the planet.

      1. You know it is possible to appreciate the wisdom in the Bible without believing it’s the word of some god.

        1. Yeah, except for all the other stuff in the bible, that makes it seem like the product of a bunch of drunken idiots.

          1. I agree with BOTH of the above! The Bible is full of good, neutral, and stupid-bad things…

            For a balanced review of that (among other things; a good book in general) See Peter McWilliams “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if you do…”


            Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society

    3. If Jesus Christ was alive today

      Jesus Christ IS alive today.

      That’s sorta the point of the whole faith. That he rose from the dead and ascended bodily into Heaven.

      And he handed out those loaves and fishes–he didn’t leave them out in a deadly desert and then encourage poor people to come and find them –and bring the kids, it’ll be like a big, lethal easter egg hunt.

  5. —“Warren, who deserves thanks from every American, faces up to 20 years in federal prison for his acts of charity.”—

    Only Trumpistas(*) would see such a disproportionate punishment as ‘fitting’.

    (*)Bigoted, economically incompetent Fascists, the scum that the scum of the Earth removes from its ears with a Q-Tip.

    1. Eh, Trumpistas aren’t that scummy, for the most part. They aren’t libertatrians, that’s for sure. But they were so surprised by Hillary losing and Trump actually doing some things right (Supreme court, some deregulation) that they willfully ignore all that he does wrong (immigration, trade); because Hillary losing was like a gift from Heaven, they have decided it is better to find no faults with Trump and hope the unwashed masses vote him in for a second term.

      A Trump second term would be better than a Democrat second term, but only because every single Democrat running has embraced war more than Trump, trade illiteracy as bad as Trump, and immigrant bashing as fully as Trump has. They make Trump look like Trump-Lite.

      1. Bring naive enough to believe an ideal open borders stance in the face of a welfare based reality doesnt make you libertarian.

        Stop being just as stupid as idealistic communists and socialists. Use an educated and informed scope of your libertarian ideals.

        You just look naive.

        1. You wouldn’t know libertarian if it got elected to the White House.

          The first step is to recognize you’ve made a mistake. Hillary being bad doesn’t make her opponent good.

          There’s a difference between hood/bad and worse/better. But it seems that is beyond your limited brain power. Perhaps you’ve spent too much time looking for reds under your beds.

          1. You don’t understand people very well.
            Your reads are way off.

    2. You understand you’re just Kirkland 2.0 right?

      1. Disgruntled right-wing bigots are among my favorite faux libertarians.

        Enjoying the culture war, JesseAz? Still figuring you have a chance to avoid being replaced by your betters?

        1. I hope someone puts a .45 to your head and blows your retard brains out then runs over your corpse with a garbage truck.

      2. Yeah but he uses the term “brown people” which is like smart and edgy like “decolonize.”

    3. 8 U.S. Code § 1324. Bringing in and harboring certain aliens

      This is the most applicable statute…presumably section

      (A)(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;

      Which carries different penalties depending on circumstances

      (iii) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) during and in relation to which the person causes serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18) to, or places in jeopardy the life of, any person, be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both; and

      Since no one seems to have died, Warren has sidestepped the death penalty…

      (iv) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) resulting in the death of any person, be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined under title 18, or both.

  6. “They were found to have failed to obtain permits to enter federal lands, and violating other rules. Another quartet was found guilty of similar charges in March.”

    That’s not being convicted of human trafficking. Why make this about immigration unnecessarily?

    One way to make this situation worse from a popular support perspective is to make it all about immigration unnecessarily.

    People who support open immigration might oppose creating a moral hazard and, thus, enticing migrants into a dangerous situation with a false sense of security. On the other hand, people who oppose even legal immigration might think it should be legal to help those in need and help prevent deaths in the desert.

    I don’t see any good reason to make this subject even more about immigration than it needs to be and lots of good reasons to suggest to people that this policy doesn’t really need to be about immigration at all.

    It should not be illegal to help a girl that’s bleeding to death after a botched abortion–regardless of where you stand on the abortion issue–and tying that policy in people’s minds to whether they support or oppose abortion cuts down the support for the rational and moral policy to a smaller audience than necessary.

    The purpose of libertarianism is not to seize the reigns of power and inflict freedom on the American people from above using the coercive power of government. If we want to change prevailing policy, we need to gain the support of people who disagree with us through persuasion–and that is the purpose of libertarianism.

    1. Ken, I agree. You speak wisdom!

      Everything new is old again, and vice versa. What you say, has been said before.

      (Short version up top).
      Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, ‘The State must follow, and not lead, the character and progress of the citizen.’

      Here is the full-blown quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
      ‘Republics abound in young civilians who believe that the laws make the city, that grave modifications of the policy and modes of living and employments of the population, that commerce, education and religion may be voted in or out; and that any measure, though it were absurd, may be imposed on a people if only you can get sufficient voices to make it a law. But the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand which perishes in the twisting; that the State must follow and not lead the character and progress of the citizen; that the form of government which prevails is the expression of what cultivation exists in the population which permits it. The law is only a memorandum.’

    2. “The purpose of libertarianism is not to seize the reigns of power and inflict freedom on the American people from above using the coercive power of government.”

      It would be a smart move indeed to use the coercive power of the government against itself. Worked for the civil rights activists in Alabama who braved the racists’ attack dogs. Also worked for Gandhi who wore his stint behind bars as a badge of honour. The fact that he and his followers were willing to take what the government was dishing out had great persuasive power among the population. The fact that the government is wiling to prosecute samaritans is a god send to the open border advocates if they have the stones to escalate as Gandhi did.

      1. MLK was very persuasive, which is why the government feared him. He did not use the coercive power of government to inflict freedom on people from above. He used the power of persuasion from below, and the coercive power of government made a fool of itself trying to stop him. Vicious dictators everywhere are scared to death of persuasive people for good reason.

        Oh, on a side note, It’s incredibly disappointing when my fellow libertarians abandon persuasive argument for fashion. Being fashionable may seem like it would make us more persuasive, but fashions come and go. Being fashionable means that sooner or later, we’ll end up looking like Leisure Suit Larry.

        Ever notice how hardly anybody cares about the stuff punk, hardcore, and extreme metal bands did after they sold out? They thought they would make themselves more influential and more popular by being more fashionable. Thirty years later, the only reason they’re still touring is because people want to hear the shit they did from before they tried to become fashionable.

        1. “He used the power of persuasion from below”

          He was a powerful orator, no doubt, but I think the image of people standing up to police dogs was so much more powerful and shocking. This is using state’s propensity for violence against it as in some kind of judo maneuver where strength is transformed into weakness.

          I think one such image is worth 1000s of words of argument.

    3. Exactly. When police shoot a killer they give CPR and there is every available medical response.

      When a murderer is in prison they are entitled to food, water, shelter, and medical care.

    4. The purpose of libertarianism is not to seize the reigns of power and inflict freedom on the American people from above using the coercive power of government.

      I don’t know that this is true.

      What if Childhood’s End is the only way forward? If making humanity see that a culture and government of liberty is possible is only possible after that culture has been imposed upon them for a few generations? After the leftism has been weeded out through discussion, persuasion, observation, and force, if needed?

      Right now, for every step forward we manage, we’re faced with a leftist Great Leap backward–look at the sorry condition of this magazine, twisting itself into shreds to make ‘leftism’ stretch out to replace ‘libertarianism’.

      Sadly, I don’t think imposed freedom is off the table.

  7. Let’s make a deal: let’s make the punishment for aiding and abetting illegal migration the same as for refusing to pay my taxes. How about it, you “libertarians”?

    1. How about we make the application for voting and welfare be the same as for getting a carry permit? Indeed, after submitting multiple photo ID, being fingerprinted. and having a wants&warrants check plus an FBI checkground check, the welfare applicant will be presented with a photo ID that would be valid for voting ID check.

      1. Oh, and the firearms form also includes questions about citizenship, so there’s that.

      2. So only people who can pass a background check should be eligible to vote? Or for welfare?

        1. Well, bearing arms is a constitutionally protected right “that shall not be infringed”, but somehow we have to pass a background check to do so. Why? Why is voting different that even a picture ID is seen as intrusive?

          Welfare is not even a right, so why is it harder to exercise a constitutionally protected right that “shall not be infringed” than it is to get welfare?

          I’m just saying, if we’re going to line things up (like ” punishment for aiding and abetting illegal migration the same as for refusing to pay my taxes”), let’s line up a few other things. Another thing to line up is that age of majority–that should be the same for everything, not one for having sex, a different one for voting, a different one for drinking, a different one for smoking, a different one for purchasing firearms, a different one for carrying firearms…

          1. “Another thing to line up is that age of majority”

            Once you pass the age of 21, none of this will matter to you. Far more important to decent people of all ages is this ‘daylight saving time.’ Either save daylight or spend daylight. This switching back and forth all the time is more tiresome than your most nightmarish firearms registration form which I can freely choose to ignore, unlike government mandated time meddling.

          2. The right to vote and the right to own a gun* are both civil rights created by the state. Since they are essentially privileges granted by the state, then they can be regulated by the state at the whim of the state.

            * The right of self-defense is the inalienable natural right.

            1. So, the right of self-defense applies only to defense with bare hands? How does that apply to our other rights? Does freedom of religion apply only to our own private prayers, not protecting the right to read a Bible, build a church, or wear vestments? What about freedom of speech? Do we have a right to speak to others only with our mouths, with no right to use a phone, a sign, a tee shirt, or a web site? Freedom of the press—we may print our flyer or newsletter, but have no protected right to share it with others? Tell us, wise Jeffy, what the the true essences of our rights are, before they are dressed up in the means of exercising them.

              1. So, the right of self-defense applies only to defense with bare hands?

                That’s not what I said, but you sure were quick to get your outrage boner on.

                Let me put it this way. Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that I have a natural right to own a gun, natural rights being rights that we possess simply by virtue of existing, independent of any particular society or government. Does that mean that if I am too poor to afford a gun, that my rights are being violated? Does that mean that babies have a right to own a gun? If I had lived, say, 1000 years ago, before guns had been invented, would I still have had this right to own a gun?

                1. Who would win in a fight—Mighty Mouse or the Terminator?

                  1. I guess recreational marijuana must be legal in your state now.

  8. How many of these undocumented immigrants are basically indentured servants? I mean I’m not necessarily against that but many in the media and elsewhere who are so concerned about human trafficking and such seem to discount the thousands of dollars it takes some of these migrants to get here and where there is money of that magnitude there is either gov or organized crime behind it.

    1. Organized crime, mostly.

    2. OF COURSE government and organized crime (but I repeat myself) are behind the illegal entry crisis. That is why nothing effective is being done about it. The only effective action against it would be to literally declare war on the organized criminal traffickers bringing these people here. That isn’t happening because our government and criminal elites are in on the scam.

    3. ” there is either gov or organized crime behind it.”

      What a relief. I thought it was Libyan terrorists from the future.

      1. Let’s not be so quick to rule that out.

  9. I’m in the more-the-merrier camp of Coke/Reason libertarians.
    “I’m sorry, weary traveller, I don’t have any food. Perchance, do you have any mota, amigo?”

  10. Be honest.
    The charge is human traficking, not giving food to those in need.
    A jury will decide.
    No need to twist the facts.

  11. Reuters: Protesters set fire to U.S. Embassy in Honduras in second day of demonstrations

    The attack came on the second day of protests over decrees by Hernandez that his critics argue will lead to the privatization of public services.
    The protesters chanted “American trash, American trash” outside the embassy, which was not being guarded at the time.

    Lets see how reason spins this news.

    1. This is what happens when Socialists don’t get what they want (taxpayer funded services).

      1. Did you even read the article that you yourself linked?

        Their protests are based in part because they view the president as a corrupt American puppet.

        1. “Corrupt American Puppets” would be a fantastic name for a garage band!

          (I just thought you should know).

          1. That might have been Crusty’s nickname in college!

  12. Hey–you misspelled ‘illegal immigrant’ again.

    You keep forgetting ‘illegal im’.

    Maybe that’s why your articles on illegal immigration always look like they were scrawled by a drooling mob of leftist morons?

  13. Not every act of charity is good. Some harm more than they help. We see that every day with our governments welfare. Giving some illegals food aid in the desert could lead to even more deaths are more come and the aid doesn’t increase. Remember there are always unintended consequences to what we do.

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