The case against Scott Warren, a 36-year-old geography teacher who helped a pair of migrants from Central America that arrived in Arizona hungry, dehydrated, and with blistered feet, resulted in a mistrial on Tuesday, The New York Times reports.
Warren was facing charges of “one count of conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants, which carries a 10-year sentence, and two counts of harboring them.” Federal prosecutors were trying to make the case that Warren attempted to “shield” the immigrants from law enforcement.
On Monday, the jurors had declared that they were deadlocked. However, the judge ordered them to “try again” the next day. Presiding Judge Raner C. Collins of the Federal District Court in Tucson set a conference for July 2 to discuss how to proceed.
Before the jury was dismissed, The New York Times reported Warren made a public statement.
“In the time since I was arrested in January 2018, no fewer than 88 bodies were recovered from the Arizona desert,” he said. “The government’s plan in the midst of this humanitarian crisis? Policies to target undocumented people, refugees and their families. Prosecutions to criminalize humanitarian aid, kindness and solidarity.”
Increasingly, these kinds of humanitarian efforts have landed people in prison.
In 2005, student volunteers Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss from the No More Deaths humanitarian group were charged with two felonies for helping “three undocumented immigrants get urgently needed medical care” reports DemocracyNow.org
In 2017, a record-breaking heatwave blanketed the southern border. Several volunteers with No More Deaths were arrested on “federal misdemeanor charges for placing water [for migrants] in a federally protected wilderness area.”
These harsh sentences aren’t just reserved for the public.
In April of 2019, Massachusetts Newton District Court Judge Shelly Richmond Joseph, along with a former trial court officer, were indicted on “obstruction of justice and other federal charges,” for aiding an undocumented immigrant, according to CNN.
The pair helped the twice-deported immigrant slip out of a rear courthouse door because ICE officers were waiting outside the courtroom to arrest them.
CNN reports that ICE does not consider courthouses “sensitive locations” meaning that their agents can make arrests in those public places. However, arrests at schools, hospitals, and churches are avoided.
Scott Warren’s trial has drawn the eyes of the world and it’s sparked 30 vigils across the United States. These vigils are a grim reminder of the heated debate over escalating immigration policies since President Trump made border security a “central issue of his administration.”