Extending ‘Zero Tolerance’ To People Who Help Migrants Along The Border

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
By Paul Martin

NPR.org
May 28, 2019

Arrests of people for harboring, sheltering, leaving food and water or otherwise protecting migrants have been on the rise since 2017, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to prioritize cases covered under the harboring statute.

Scott Warren, a 36-year-old college geography instructor from Ajo, Ariz., works with a group called called No More Deaths or No Mas Muertes. The group’s volunteers leave water and food for migrants traversing the Arizona desert.

Warren was arrested in 2017 and faces three felony counts including conspiracy to transport and harbor migrants. In its complaint, the government claims Warren was seen talking to two migrants who sheltered in Ajo. He denies being part of any sheltering plan.

“It is scary to be intimidated like this and to be targeted but there really is no choice,” said Warren. He believes the government is violating his right to religious freedom by criminalizing his spiritual belief that mandates he help people in distress.

“For the government, it’s kind of been an expansion of the interpretation of what it means to harbor,” he suggested.

The stretch of desert near Ajo can be deadly. The Pima County Medical Examiner has documented 250 migrant deaths in the area since 2001. In the same time frame, thousands have died of dehydration and exposure in the Arizona borderlands.

“It is life or death here. And a decision not to give somebody food or or water could lead to that person dying,” Warren said.

‘Can I be compassionate?’

Nine and half hours away by car from Ajo, in the west Texas town of Marfa, another case is unfolding that pits the government against a four-time elected city and county attorney, Teresa Todd.

The Rest…HERE

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