Defending Rights & Dissent Condemns Felony Prosecution of No More Deaths Activist

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Dr. Warren Scott is facing felony charges carrying up to 20 years in prison. His crime? Providing humanitarian assistance, such as food, water, and shelter, to migrants who might have otherwise died.

Scott is part of No More Deaths, an Arizona based activist group. The group was founded by religious leaders in response to increasing migrant deaths in the desert along the US-Mexico border. Since 2000, remains of at least 3,000 people have been found in the desert. No More Deaths seeks to prevent these deaths. The group is known for leaving water and food in the dessert, as well as, for documenting human rights abuses of border officials.

While leaving water in the desert to prevent people from dying shouldn’t seem controversial, given those whose lives are being saved are undocumented migrants it unfortunately is. Custom and Border Patrol agents have been known to dump out or otherwise destroy water containers left in the dessert.

Scott is being charged under a smuggling statute for providing his water, food, and shelter to two Central American migrants. His actions followed No More Deaths protocol, which aims to stay within the confines of the law. No No More Deaths activists have been charged with smuggling, since a 2005 case that resulted in a judge dismissing the charges. Scott’s arrests came on the heels of a No More Deaths videos of CPB agents destroying water. His supporters and attorney have argued that his arrest is in retaliation for this.

Defending Rights & Dissent condemns the felony charges against Scott. Humanitarian aid is not a crime. The sudden desire to criminally pursue No More Deaths is part of an increasingly hostile environment against migrants. It is also retaliatory for the the advocacy views of No More Deaths.