Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, both 23, face felony charges for aiding people in the Arizona desert who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Their appeal to have the case against them dismissed was denied in January. Sellz and Strauss are volunteers with No More Deaths, a Tucson, Arizona-based coalition of faith-based groups that advocates for immigrant reform and provides food, water, and medical care to migrants crossing the desert.
Sellz told Sojourners she joined No More Deaths after living near the border and “witnessing countless instances where people were on the sides of the roads and no one was stopping to help.” Sellz and Strauss were arrested last July when they took three migrants to a hospital in Tucson. U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton charged the volunteers with transporting illegal aliens and conspiracy. Combined, the charges carry a maximum of 15 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, or both. Sellz said they are being prosecuted “for something I believe is not only right and legal, but is really necessary.” A record number of migrants—282—died near the Arizona-Sonora border between July 2004 and July 2005.