Prosecutors move forward with retrial of aid worker who provided water to migrants

"The US government is disgracing itself by threatening and even prosecuting its own citizens for their vital work to save the lives of people in a desperate situation at the border.”

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Federal prosecutors have decided to move forward and retry their case against Scott Warren, a humanitarian air worker that is accused of aiding and sheltering migrants.

Prosecutors announced that they will only retry Warren on two counts of harboring but will dismiss the charge of conspiracy to smuggle. He still faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

Warren was offered a plea bargain of time served if he pleads guilty to the misdemeanor for aiding and abetting entry without inspection. In his statement outside the courthouse on Tuesday Warren did not comment on the plea bargain.

In June Warren’s trial ended after a jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision. Eight jurors believed that Warren was not guilty and four believed he was guilty.

Warren was arrested in January 2018 at the Barn, a humanitarian aid facility that provides aid to migrants crossing the border through the Sonoran Desert. For years he has worked with No More Deaths, a humanitarian aid group known for leaving food and water for migrants braving the desert crossing.

Warren’s arrest came shortly after No More Deaths released video footage of Border Patrol agents destroying the water containers that aid workers had left for them.

Since 2001 more than 3,000 undocumented immigrants have died within the jurisdiction Warren often helped in, Pima County. Warren himself has found 18 sets of human remains while searching for lost migrants and leaving food and water.

Although Border Patrol and humanitarian aid workers used to coexist rather peacefully, in the past several years Border Patrol has cracked down and relationships between the two have become strained. A new report published by Amnesty International this week details the two year long attack on human rights defenders, attorneys, and journalists working along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The U.S. “government has executed an unlawful and politically motivated campaign of intimidation, threats, harassment, and criminal investigations against people who defend the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,” says the report.

“The Trump administration’s targeting of human rights defenders through discriminatory misuse of the criminal justice system sets it on a slippery slope toward authoritarianism. The US government is disgracing itself by threatening and even prosecuting its own citizens for their vital work to save the lives of people in a desperate situation at the border.”

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