The four women belonged to the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths and were arrested on Aug. 13, 2017. They were charged for keeping water jugs, beans, and other supplies for the migrants in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.
We all know about the ongoing case of border activist Scott Warren who could now face up to 20 years in prison and for what -- feeding hungry migrants at the border. And following the much-debated trial, many humanitarian aid workers are now hesitant to even help migrants at the border.
'No More Deaths', an Arizona group, leaves water in the inhospitable desert for migrants, saving hundreds of lives. Punishable by 5 years in federal prison, they answer to a higher calling. 💘 #Immigration pic.twitter.com/jqQW95hqk3— Lorie Meacham (@LorieMeacham) June 27, 2018
In yet another recent incident this year, four aid workers were convicted for leaving food and water for tired migrants in an Arizona wildlife refuge across the U.S.-Mexico border. The four women belonged to the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths and were arrested by a Federal Wildlife officer on Aug. 13, 2017. They were charged for keeping water jugs, beans, and other supplies for the migrants in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. As reported by Time.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco has sentenced Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick to 15 months of unsupervised probation. All of them will also have to pay fines of $250 each, reports AZ Central.
Four aid volunteers are facing prison time after leaving food and water inside an Arizona national wildlife refuge where undocumented migrants have died trying to enter the United States. https://t.co/tkPzDIXmIe pic.twitter.com/awMOuCCsGH— CNN (@CNN) January 22, 2019
The name of the aid group (No More Deaths) is apt because their only aim is to ensure they save more lives by providing basic supplies along the US-Mexico border. The organization has claimed that almost 155 migrants have died in their refuge since 2001.
According to the report, three out of the four aid workers -- Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick -- were arrested for entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit. They have also been charged for leaving behind their personal property and possession at the place. Meanwhile, the fourth volunteer, Natalie Hoffman, was convicted on an additional charge of riding a motor vehicle in the area.
They left food and water for migrants in the desert. Now they might go to prison.— AL.com (@aldotcom) January 22, 2019
The four women, all volunteers for the Arizona-based aid group No More Deaths, were convicted after a three-day bench trial at a federal court in Tucson. https://t.co/5TMmhIrGzd pic.twitter.com/dWBRtTlXK0
“Each one acted on the mistaken belief that the worst that could happen was that they could be banned, debarred… or fined,” Magistrate Bernardo P. Velasco ruled at that time. “No one in charge of No More Deaths ever informed them that their conduct could be prosecuted as a criminal offense nor did any of the Defendants make any independent inquiry into the legality or consequences of their activities.”
Velasco added that they did not receive a legal permit to go to the wildlife refuge. And they had even taken a detour and go to places where they were not allowed, leaving behind their belongings. The judge ruled that their actions “[erode] the national decision to maintain the refuge in its pristine nature.”
However, Catherine Gaffney, a volunteer at No More Deaths, believes that what they did was purely out of basic human kindness. “This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers but people of conscience throughout the country. If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?” Gaffney said.
Fast forward four months later, and now Scott Warren is having his trial for merely providing shelter to migrants trekking through the desert. He could now face up to 20 years in prison for giving hungry migrants food and water. As reported by CNN.
The ongoing debate on Warren's actions has seen two sides -- one that claims what he did was harbor undocumented immigrants while the others believe that it is a just a human instinct to help the needy.
Nate Walters, the assistant US attorney leading the prosecution, believes that this case is not about "humanitarian aid." He added that Warren was arrested for his decision "to shield illegal aliens from law enforcement for several days."
On the other hand, Gregory Kuykendall, Warren's defense attorney told the courtroom that "No More Deaths is not on trial. Scott Warren is." He added that his client was a "law-abiding, life-giving Good Samaritan" who "never gave [the migrant men] anything besides basic human kindness."