Scott Warren, who volunteers with the humanitarian group No More Deaths, could face 20 years in prison for allegedly harboring illegal immigrants after they entered the United States.
What does his group do?
No More Deaths leaves water and food in places where it will likely be found by illegal immigrants making the dangerous trek across the desert in southern Arizona. The group was founded in 2004.
There are no exact figures for the number of illegal immigrants who die in the desert each year, but according to PBS, officials in Pima County, Arizona, recovered the remains of 2,816 people between 2000 and 2017. Since that time period, the number of border crossings has increased.
What happened now?
The case against Warren centers on two illegal immigrants who stopped at a shelter maintained by No More Deaths and a few other humanitarian groups about 40 miles from the Mexican border. The prosecution claimed that Warren coordinated the transportation of these two immigrants to the shelter, while Warren has insisted that he offered them only food and water after they arrived — and at the recommendation of a doctor and nurse.
The U.S. Border Patrol often allows aid groups to give illegal immigrants food and water, but not to transport them or to shield them from immigration authorities. Warren testified that the immigrants were only staying at the shelter temporarily and were about to continue their journey when they were arrested.
Warren has pleaded not guilty to the charges that led to his arrest on January 17, 2018, saying that he delivered aid only in accordance with the law. He faces one count of felony conspiracy and two counts of felony harboring.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nate Walters, who is heading up the prosecution in this case, said Warren crossed the line from providing humanitarian aid and was actively trying “to shield illegal aliens from law enforcement for several days.”
No More Deaths claims that Warren’s arrest could be retaliation for a video that the group released showing Border Patrol agents dumping out water bottles left in the desert for illegal immigrants. Border Patrol had reportedly been notified of this video just hours before Warren was arrested.
According to CNN, this isn’t the first time that volunteers with No More Deaths have been charged with violating laws dealing with illegal immigration. Warren’s trial began on Monday.