Controversial Border Aid Case Results in Mistrial
“How could you not do it, living in a place where people are dying by the dozens around you every year. How could you not respond?”
The controversial and high-profile case of a humanitarian aid worker arrested for helping migrants in the Arizona desert has come to a close, at least for now. As Citizen Truth previously wrote, Scott Warren, a volunteer for No More Deaths, was arrested in 2018 for the alleged “harboring” of two undocumented migrants. He was charged with three felonies for providing food, water and shelter to two migrants who illegally entered the U.S., according to Border Patrol agents. Warren faced up to 20 years in prison for his humanitarian assistance.
After much deliberation from the jury in Warren’s trial that began on May 26, the federal judge declared a mistrial on Tuesday, June 11.
Jury Unable to Reach a Verdict
Warren was charged with two counts of “harboring illegal aliens” and one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. According to Warren’s attorney Greg Kuykendall, the jurors were in favor of acquittal on every charge.
The jury deliberated for three days before telling U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins that they could not reach a verdict. Warren, a volunteer for No More Deaths, a humanitarian group located in Southern Arizona, told reporters after the judge declared the mistrial that the humanitarian work to help migrants along the border needed to continue.
“Since my arrest in January 2018, at least 88 bodies were recovered from the Ajo corridor of the Arizona desert. We know that’s a minimum number and many more are out there and have not been found,” said Warren after the mistrial was declared, as reported by CNN. He continued that “it remains as necessary as ever for local residents and humanitarian aid volunteers to stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees.”
Scott Warren’s father, Mark Warren, was present at the trial. He told reporters: “It’s not the best outcome for us, but we’ll take it.”
Prosecutors Accused Warren of Furthering the ‘Goals of His Organization’
Prosecutors accused Warren of harboring the two migrant men at a place known as The Barn, a shelter about 40 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Several humanitarian aid organizations, including No More Deaths, use The Barn to leave food and water for migrants and to stage search-and-rescue efforts.
Anna Wright, one of the prosecutors, said that Warren “had an interest in furthering Kristian and Jose’s illegal trip.” She continued that his goal “was the furtherance of the goals of his organization.”
The prosecutors further alleged that Warren was assisting the migrants to avoid a “Border Patrol checkpoint.” Warren responded that he had simply helped familiarize the men with the surrounding desert so they would not get lost.
Andy Silverman, a former professor of law at the University of Arizona, helped set medical and legal protocols for No More Deaths. He testified that volunteers were sufficiently trained. He assured the jurors that members of the group regularly met with Border Patrol agents to establish that “we do things in a proper and a legal way, we do things transparently.”
‘No More Deaths’
Over the past 20 years, the remains of more than 3,000 people have been found near the U.S.-Mexico border. Just this year, Pima County’s Medical Examiner reported finding the remains of 58 people who were presumably crossing the border in the deserts of Arizona.
Warren told the jury that he always obeyed the law during his humanitarian efforts. He testified about helping the migrants: “How could you not do it, living in a place where people are dying by the dozens around you every year. How could you not respond?”
Judge Collins set a hearing for July 2, although prosecutors refused to disclose whether Warren would be retried.