A jury in the case of an Arizona immigration activist on trial for helping undocumented migrants survive in the desert was deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict on his guilt yesterday.
Activist Scott Daniel Warren, who was arrested on January 17, 2018, is on trial for allegedly providing food, water, basic supplies, and beds to undocumented immigrants crossing the border in Arizona, near the Sonoran desert, where hundreds of migrants have died in recent years from dehydration or exposure.
The federal government considers what Warren did to be a crime, specifically “harboring and conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants,” per the Washington Post. But on Tuesday, a jury of his peers could not decide whether or not they agreed.
Deciding who Warren is and what he did proved a task too tortuous for jurors, who said on Tuesday they remained deadlocked in their deliberations and could not reach a unanimous verdict.
The judge, Raner C. Collins, dismissed them and scheduled a status hearing in the case for July 2. The U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona did not immediately indicate whether it would seek another trial.
While a full “not guilty” verdict would set a much more human precedent for activists seeking to prevent undocumented immigrants from needlessly dying on American soil, the hung jury gives Warren a fighting chance to beat the 20-year sentence federal prosecutors are pushing for.
Warren was arrested outside of a site in Ajo, AZ, known as “the Barn,” which his organization No Más Muertes uses to provide water and medical care to migrants and undocumented immigrants, after helping two migrants while under federal surveillance. His defense contends that he never hid the two migrants or encouraged them to commit crimes like unlawful entry, and that he merely helped people who arrived at the facility.
Warren’s arrest came right after No Más Muertes published evidence that Customs and Border Patrol officers had destroyed caches of water and supplies left in the desert to prevent migrant deaths. In a statement after judge Collins’ decision, Warren claimed that 88 bodies had been recovered from his region of the Arizona desert.
The federal government, meanwhile, is still forcing migrants to stay in concentration camps under bridges. You can decide for yourself which is more criminal.