United States Customs and Border Patrol officers arrested an immigration activist just hours after his group presented evidence that CBP agents were destroying humanitarian aid left for undocumented immigrants in the Arizona desert.
Scott Daniel Warren, an Arizona State University instructor, was arrested on January 17 shortly after the activist group No More Deaths released video of CPB agents dumping gallons of potentially life-saving water left for immigrants making the treacherous trip across the Mexico-Arizona border.
Warren was detained following CBP surveillance of a property near the border, in which he was allegedly harboring two undocumented immigrants and providing them with food, water, and clean clothes.
“It felt retaliatory in that it occurred less than eight hours after our press conference releasing these findings that implicated Border Patrol,” No More Death volunteer Caitlin Deighan told The Arizona Republic on Monday. “But we can’t confirm that with certainty.”
Warren’s attorney Bill Walker, however, called the arrest “absolutely” retaliation for his client’s work with No More Deaths.
“We don’t smuggle them, we don’t do anything to help them enter the United States, we do nothing illegal,” Walker said. “This place that they raided is not in the middle of the desert, it’s not hidden anywhere. It’s in the city of Ajo, and it’s been used for a long time, not to help smuggle migrants, but to give medical care and food and water.”
In response to a request for comment from CBP, agency representative Carlos Díaz told me, “this lawful law enforcement action was not related to any report,” and referred me to the Department of Justice for any further statements on the arrest.
Last spring, CBP agents raided a No More Death aid camp in Southern Arizona, claiming group activists had refused their request “to question the four suspected illegal aliens [in the camp] as to their citizenship and legal right to be present in the United States.”
Regardless of whether or not Warren’s arrest was retaliatory, CBP officials have officially condemned the footage of their agents damaging aid for border crossers.
“All agents within Tucson sector have been instructed not to remove or destroy water stations, food or other resources left along the trails in the desert,”Border Patrol public affairs agent Christopher Sullivan told AZCentral. Sullivan claimed that this policy had been in place for years.
The two allegedly undocumented men sought by CBP during Warren’s arrest reportedly turned themselves into federal authorities during the incident. A judge has ordered Warren to be released pending an upcoming trial.