Aid Workers Arrested by Border Patrol for Helping Migrants Cross Border | Sojourners

Aid Workers Arrested by Border Patrol for Helping Migrants Cross Border

Eight volunteers with No More Deaths, an Arizona-based advocacy group seeking to provide humanitarian aid to prevent deaths of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, have been charged with federal misdemeanor charges, according to The Guardian.

One of the eight volunteers, Scott Warren, 35, was arrested by Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents on Jan. 17, and is facing a felony charge for harboring undocumented immigrants in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge near Ajo, Ariz., according to court documents.

The charges come in the wake of the publication of a report by No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos that indicated at least 3,586 gallon jugs of water destroyed in the desert region near Arivaca, Ariz., by U.S. Border Patrol agents between 2012-2015.

“Yes. I saw water bottles stabbed," Miguel, a migrant from Sinaloa, Mexico, said in the report. "They break the bottles so you can’t even use them to fill up at the tanks. I needed water, some of the other people in the group needed water, but we found them destroyed. [I felt] helplessness, rage. They must hate us. It’s their work to capture us, but we are humans. And they don’t treat us like humans. It’s hate is what it is. They break the bottles out of hate.” 

The report states that the groups had gathered evidence of U.S. Border Patrol agents systemically vandalizing or confiscating food, water, and other humanitarian aid supplies in the desert provided by No More Deaths, leaving migrants to die of exposure or dehydration. 

An official statement by U.S. Border Patrol responded to the accusations:

[Border Patrol] is committed to enforcing U.S. federal laws to secure our nation’s borders while insuring the safety and security of all individuals. We do not condone or support the destruction or tampering with humanitarian provisions. Border Patrol welcomes and encourages communication [and] cooperation with any agency [or] organization to better serve and protect those within our nation’s borders.”

press release by No More Deaths states:

Cabeza Prieta has denied No More Deaths access to administrative roads that would enable volunteers to bring higher volumes of water to crucial remote wilderness areas. Despite this, Border Patrol has indiscriminately driven on all parts of the refuge, according to a report by the refuge itself. In response to the number of human remains, specifically on Cabeza Prieta, No More Deaths has intensified its efforts to deliver aid there, while Cabeza Prieta changed language on the access-permit application in July of 2017 to specifically prohibit leaving humanitarian aid supplies on the refuge.

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