Last month, the jury in the case of a migrant aid activist facing up to 20 years in prison for providing food, water, and shelter for immigrants making the trek through the desert was deadlocked. Don’t worry, though: The Department of Justice isn’t going to quit until it gets this aqua-menace convicted of something.
In a federal court in Tucson on Tuesday, CNN reported, prosecutors announced their intention to try Scott Daniel Warren on two counts of “harboring” two undocumented immigrants while under federal surveillance, while simultaneously dropping the charge of “conspiring to transport” undocumented immigrants. Warren’s arrest in January 2018 came just hours after No Más Deaths released a report and video evidence of Border Patrol agents destroying aid and supplies in the desert.
At the same time, however, prosecutors said they were offering Warren a plea bargain to drop those charges in exchange for Warren pleading guilty to a misdemeanor of “aiding and abetting illegal entry without inspection.” Warren’s attorney told CNN that the guilty plea wouldn’t include jail time, although the office of U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Michael Bailey refused to say whether or not the exclusion of jail time was included in the offer.
Warren’s attorney said it was up to his client to accept the plea deal. If Warren doesn’t, a new trial will start on November 12.
The decision to retry Warren rather than dismissing the charges comes a week after the bodies of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria were found on the bank of the Rio Grande after trying to swim across it to get to Texas. The Arizona desert has been especially deadly for migrants; the Pima County Medical Examiner—which includes both Tucson and Ajo, where Warren lived and allegedly provided the support—has recorded over 250 migrant deaths over the past two years combined, according to the Arizona Republic.
“While I do not know what the government has hoped to accomplish here,” Warren said in a statement to CNN, “I do know what the effect of all this has been. A raising of public consciousness. A greater awareness of the humanitarian crisis in the borderland. More volunteers who want to stand in solidarity with migrants. Local residents stiffened in their resistance to border walls and the militarization of our communities. And a flood of water into the desert at a time when it is most needed.”