Activist Who Faced 20 Years for Giving Food, Shelter to Migrants Will Be Retried, DOJ Says

Scott Walker

Federal prosecutors announced that they will seek a retrial for a humanitarian aid volunteer who was arrested for aiding migrants, the Arizona Republic reports.

Scott Warren, a volunteer for the aid group No More Deaths, initially faced 20 years in prison after he was charged with conspiracy to transport or shield an undocumented immigrant and two counts of harboring an undocumented immigrant but his trial ended in a hung jury last month.

Arizona Assistant US Attorney Anna Wright told a court Tuesday that the government will dismiss the conspiracy charge but will seek a retrial on the two counts of harboring an undocumented immigrant.

The second trial is set to begin in November.

US District Judge Raner Collins declared a mistrial in the previous case after a jury was unable to reach a verdict for four days, following an eight-day trial.

"While I do not know what the government has hoped to accomplish here, I do know what the effect of this has been and will continue to be," Warren said Tuesday. "A raising of public consciousness; a greater awareness of the humanitarian crisis at the borderlands; more volunteers who want to stand in solidarity with migrants; border residents stiffened up in their resistance to the militarization of our communities, and a flood of water into the desert when it's most needed."

"The federal government prioritizing prosecution of life-saving humanitarian aid work in a crisis where right now children are in cages, and are dying in Border Patrol custody, and people are dying of heat exposure, is completely unconscionable," Catherine Gaffney, a No More Deaths volunteer, said after the hearing.

Warren is accused of aiding undocumented migrants:

Warren, 36, was arrested in January 2018 in Ajo, Arizona at a building used by humanitarian groups to drop off water and supplies for migrants trekking through the Arizona desert.

Warren was arrested by Border Patrol along with two undocumented immigrants after the agency set up surveillance outside the building.

Warren is accused of conspiring to transport the two migrants and harboring them for several days.

Warren said he does not know what happened with the migrants who were arrested.

“The other men arrested with me that day, Jose Sacaria-Goday and Kristian Perez-Villanueva, have not received the outpouring of support that I have," Warren said last month. "I do not know how they are doing now. But I desperately hope that they are safe."

Warren said that since his arrest, the remains of 88 migrants who died crossing the desert have been found.

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