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Criminalizing Humanitarian Aid, Kindness and Solidarity

A geography teacher by the name of Scott Warren from Ajo, Arizona was arrested by United States Border Patrol agents on January 17, 2018. He was charged with one count of conspiring to transport and two counts of harboring two Central American men who entered the United States from Mexico. Scott Warren is one of many volunteers who work with the non-profit Arizona-based aid group No More Deaths who provide supplies for migrants crossing the Mexican border into Arizona. The No More Deaths non-profit organization are known to leave water jugs in desert areas, recover bodies of migrants who have died and provide care to those injured. On the Sunday before Scott Warren’s arrest his attorney Gregory Kuykendall stated that, “Warren arrived at an aid station operated by No More Deaths known as ‘The Barn’ to find two Central American men in need of medical assistance.” According to Scott Warren’s recounts of that day attorney Gregory Kuykendall stated that, “The men said they had walked through the desert for two days and during that time, they had split only a burrito and a sports drink. One man had blisters on his feet, a couch and had not urinated in 12 hours, while the other man had similar symptoms and chest pains…Warren called a nurse, gave the two men water, let them rest, made dinner, shared it with the men and then called a doctor in Tucson. The doctor said the men needed to drink water and volunteers should monitor them, so volunteers kept an eye on the men’s recovery while Warren returned home.” According to Gregory Kuykendall the men were at ‘The Barn’ for three days and during that time Scott Warren “never gave them anything besides basic human kindness.” 

Attorney Gregory Kuykendall and the No More Deaths non-profit organization claim that Scott Warren’s arrest was a form of retaliation from the United States Border Patrol due to the fact that No More Deaths released a video showing evidence that Border Patrol agents were destroying water supplies left for migrants at certain locations. During Scott Warren’s trial the jurors were asked to determine whether Scott Warren “attempted” to “shield” two undocumented immigrants from law enforcement. The prosecution with the United States Attorney’s Office in Arizona argued that the two migrants were in “good health” and therefore were not in need of any medical care. Even though “The government put on its best case, with the full force and countless resources” it was not enough to charge Scott Warren according to Gregory Kuykendall. The jurors on the case were unable to reach a verdict which led Judge Raner C. Collins of the Federal District Court in Tucson to declare a mistrial. Attorney Gregory Kuykendall stated that, “Scott is a law-abiding, life-giving good Samaritan” and as of today, “remains innocent, both as a legal matter and as a factual matter, because the jury could not unanimously conclude otherwise.” 

According to a representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Humanitarian aid is not a crime” nor should it ever be considered a crime. It’s a heartbreaking realization that in today’s society one cannot show basic human kindness without the fear of arrest. Threatening humanitarians with arrest, charging with felonies and prison time is just another strategy that the Trump administration is hoping to practice in order to deter immigration. It’s without a doubt certain that, “Scott intended one thing, to provide basic human kindness in the form of humanitarian aid.” We should never forget the need to show mercy and kindness towards another human being. 

Mercedes Riggs