Prosecuted for the Crime of Assisting Refugees in Distress
America’s Rulers Will Not Tolerate Interference With Their War on Immigrants



Dr. Scott Daniel Warren

The felony trial of Dr. Scott Daniel Warren in federal court in Tucson ended in a hung jury Tuesday, June 11: 8-4 for acquittal. Scott Warren, a lecturer at Arizona State University and volunteer with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes (NMD), was facing three felony charges: two counts of “harboring” and one count of “conspiracy to transport and harbor” immigrants. If convicted, he could have received a maximum 20-year prison sentence. The government has not yet disclosed whether it intends to retry Warren.

The criminal complaint alleged that Warren had provided two undocumented immigrants "food, water, beds and clean clothes" for three days at "the Barn” outside Ajo, Arizona, 43 miles from the Mexican border. These border crossers, Jose and Kristian, had just survived a 2-day trek across Arizona's Sonora Desert, and had come to the Barn, a rundown house which serves as a base camp for No More Deaths volunteers setting out to search the desert for migrants, or their remains. The Barn also provides a place for migrants to get medical help, food, and water after what can be a horrific journey—one which has claimed the lives of over 3,000 migrants since 2001 in this region of Southern Arizona alone. The number of deaths skyrocketed after the Border Patrol began implementing its “Prevention Through Deterrence” strategy under President Clinton, which has deliberately funneled potential border crossers into the most treacherous portions of the U.S.-Mexico border. Death, after all, is the ultimate “deterrence.”

Border Patrol agents had been stalking Scott Warren for at least 6 months, and had the Barn under surveillance. They arrested Warren and the two migrants when they were spotted there together. A nurse testifying for the defense described the medical care that she provided to Jose and Kristian. And another member of NMD’s medical team backed her up, saying she had advised that they needed continued medical observation and treatment before going back into the desert.

What kind of system implements policies that have, intentionally, turned Arizona's Sonoran Desert into a killing field littered with the remains of thousands of human lives that have been found, and unknown thousands more which have forever been "disappeared" by Border Patrol practices that drive migrants into the most remote terrain to die of thirst—and let vultures, coyotes, and insects do the rest. The lives of men, women, and children are being taken, for the "crime" of searching for a safe haven and a future far from the "remains" of whole countries the system of U.S. capitalism-imperialism has dominated and plundered for a century and more.

And what kind of system responds to the exposure of its crimes by making criminals out of people determined to provide humanitarian aid to those same human beings in the face of mounting repression? NMD reports that the remains of at least 89 more migrants have been found since the day Scott Warren was arrested.

In the middle of the trial the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement: “Providing humanitarian aid is not a crime. We urge the US authorities to immediately drop all charges against Scott Warren.” Of course this statement was ignored.  

Intimidation, Retaliation, and Repression

Scott Warren was arrested on January 17, 2018. Only hours before his arrest, No More Deaths had released a devastating report—“Disappeared,” Part 2, “Interference With Humanitarian Aid: Death and Disappearance at the U.S.-Mexico Border”—that exposed policies and practices of the U.S. Border Patrol to interfere with and stop the efforts of volunteers from searching migrant pathways for desperate migrants who might still be alive, and for the remains of those who succumbed. For years No More Deaths volunteers have been leaving water jugs and canned food so that border crossers would not die of thirst. For this they have been arrested and convicted by a judge - for "disposal of waste" in a national wildlife refuge.

The NMD Report stated: “Border Patrol agents are destroying gallons of water intended for border crossers.... In data collected by No More Deaths from 2012 to 2015, we find that at least 3,586 gallon jugs of water were destroyed” in one desert corridor. As part of their report, they posted videos – that went viral in no time - showing Border Patrol agents stabbing, stomping, kicking and draining the bottles of water, smiling as they poured water into the sand, knowing full well that they were taking the lives of human beings in the process. 

Throughout this case the defense has exposed evidence of the sweeping extent of government surveillance of No More Deaths going on long before Warren was arrested. They filed a Motion to Dismiss due to Selective Enforcement, which showed that communications by the U.S. Border Patrol about the movement and activities of No More Deaths volunteers in Ajo, and specifically Scott Warren, had been going on at least 6 months before his arrest. And in the weeks before the arrest, two agents were exchanging the address of Warren's home, the make and model of his car, and were closely monitoring his whereabouts. Throughout this whole period, no crime was even alleged.

No More Deaths has called for groups and communities around the country to join them in a “Day of Action” on Friday, June 21st, “the longest day of the year, and often one of the deadliest in the Arizona desert,” for actions at Department of Homeland Security offices around the country to demand an end to Prevention Through Deterrence.

The prosecution of Scott Warren represents a blatant, and extremely serious act of political intimidation, retaliation and repression aimed at threatening not only No More Deaths and other humanitarian aid groups, but anyone who the U.S. Department of INjustice views as daring to “interfere” with America's objectives, however monstrous, criminal, and immoral.

Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"

Bob Avakian: 
The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants

Watch full speech here

Screenshot from video posted by No More Deaths showing border agent grinning while pouring out water left for migrants. No More Deaths reported “Border Patrol agents are destroying gallons of water intended for border crossers.... In data collected by No More Deaths from 2012 to 2015, we find that at least 3,586 gallon jugs of water were destroyed” in one desert corridor.

In this Feb. 8, 2019 photo published the first week of March, a 13-year-old immigrant from El Salvador peers over the U.S. border fence from Tijuana, Mexico, as a 17-year-old Honduran migrant, and his sister, 25, look on while looking for a way to help the sister and her son cross undetected. (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel)


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