Final #Cabeza9 Misdemeanor Charge Against Dr. Scott Warren Dismissed
TUCSON, ARIZONA - Late Wednesday, February 26th, prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the final #Cabeza9 charge against Dr. Scott Warren. At a hearing in Tucson at 10AM Judge Raner Collins granted the motion, ending over two years of government prosecution.
Dr. Warren was acquitted last November of felony charges for offering food, water, and beds to two undocumented migrants in Ajo, Arizona. On the same day, Judge Collins issued a long-awaited decision regarding separate misdemeanor charges for humanitarian aid on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in an area known as "the trail of death." Dr. Warren was found not guilty of one charge, abandonment of property, due to a religious freedom claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), however, he was found guilty of "Operating a Motor Vehicle in a Wilderness Area." This final charge has now been dismissed.
"Today the government took the position that people of conscience should not be prosecuted for acts of humanitarian aid," said Defense Attorney Greg Kuykendall in a statement outside court. "In other words humanitarian aid, by definition, is not a crime."
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The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge covers over 803,000 acres of remote desert with no natural water sources and very few publicly accessible roads, making it one of the deadliest migration corridors along the border. Since 2001, 179 people have been recovered in this remote area and countless more remain missing. No More Deaths has been active in the area since 2014. Four additional No More Deaths volunteers faced the same charges for humanitarian aid work in the area, were convicted and sentenced, but recently had their convictions reversed on appeal, also due to a RFRA claim.
"We will continue to provide care and solidarity to people in the borderlands," said media coordinator Paige Corich-Kleim outside of court. "Despite our organization's victory today, we must also acknowledge the escalating violence toward directly affected communities—many people who seek justice in this country never find it."
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No More Deaths is a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona. We began in 2004 in the form of a coalition of community and faith groups, dedicated to stepping up efforts to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert and to achieving the enactment of a set of Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform. We later developed into an autonomous project. Since 2008 we have been an official ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson.