A mistrial was declared in the trial of an Arizona man accused of harboring illegal immigrants. Scott Warren was charged with giving two migrants water, food, and shelter. The charges could land the geology teacher in prison for 20 years. But a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision. Eight jurors believed he was not guilty, with four finding he was guilty. No word from prosecutors if he’ll be re-tried.
This kind of case is something we’ve seldom seen. Warren is part of a volunteer group that has for years helped migrants in need who are crossing the desert. They have never been put on trial before for their humanitarian efforts, but that recently changed. The New York Times writes:
Increasingly, these kinds of efforts have landed people in jail. In 2017, a summer that saw a brutal heat wave, several volunteers with the group No More Deaths were arrested on federal misdemeanor charges for placing water in a federally protected wilderness area. The stakes were raised significantly in 2018, when Border Patrol agents set up surveillance near one of the humanitarian bases and filed three felony charges against Scott Warren, a 36-year-old geography teacher who helped a pair of migrants from Central America who had arrived there hungry, dehydrated and with blistered feet.
An opinion writer for the Arizona Star writes:
Before Donald Trump became president, federal prosecutors generally turned a blind eye to humanitarian groups that refused to stand by while people died in the desert. Instead, prosecutors went after smugglers and those who turned a profit from illegal immigration.
That all changed in 2017, when then-Attorney Genereal Jeff Sessions declared it a priority to go after anyone harboring undocumented immigrants.
People like Warren, a long-time volunteer with No More Deaths, a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, a guy who acts not out of a profit motive but out of a Christian motive, a belief that helping his fellow man is the good and right thing to do.
Watch the statement Warren made after the trial ended above.