Four female humanitarian activists are facing jail time for leaving food and water in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge for migrants.
The four women left gallons of water and cans of beans scattered throughout the refuge for immigrants making the oftentimes deadly crossing into the United States.
All four activists have been convicted of entering the refuge without a permit, and one activist, Ms. Hoffman, was also convicted of operating a vehicle inside the refuge; all face up to six months in prison and a $500 fine.
No More Deaths, the humanitarian aid group with which the women were working, released a statement denouncing the court’s decision.
“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?” — Catherine Gaffney
Members of the aid group have been leaving life-saving supplies along known migrant routes since 2004, when the organization was founded by Arizona religious leaders.
Last year, the group published a report alleging that U.S. Border Patrol agents frequently destroy or vandalize supplies left behind by the activists, leaving refugees and immigrants to die of thirst or exposure.
Hours after that report was released, a No More Deaths volunteer was arrested and charged with felony counts of harboring and conspiracy for providing sustenance and shelter to a group of migrants over three days. Volunteer Scott Daniel Warren faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
In addition to providing humanitarian aid, No More Deaths seeks out and documents human remains in known migration areas, which helps them to pinpoint which locations are most in need of supplies.
“It’s important to keep in mind here that the sort of targeting of humanitarian aid on the border is part of a larger crackdown that the Trump administration has been orchestrating on the border. It extends to family separation. It extends to the sort of clogging of ports of entry for asylum seekers.” — Ryan Devereaux, reporter at The Intercept
While the verdict for the four female activists is certainly steep, should Warren be convicted of the felony charges against him, it will have devastating ramifications for the humanitarian aid movement at the U.S.-Mexico border, likely resulting in thousands of migrant deaths each year.
Iron Triangle Press continues to follow the Trump administration’s war against migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers.