No More Deaths volunteers prosecuted for providing humanitarian aid to migrants
Anthony del Olmo
16 February 2019
On January 18, a federal judge rendered a guilty verdict against four volunteers from the humanitarian organization No More Deaths (NMD) for their actions in the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona along the US-Mexico border a year and a half ago. Judge Bernardo Velasco’s ruling marks the first conviction of humanitarian aid volunteers in the US in a decade.
The volunteers—Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick—were found guilty of misdemeanors related to entering a wildlife refuge without a permit and leaving behind “personal property.” The latter was a reference to basic lifesaving necessities such as food, water and other small items left behind by the volunteers in order to ensure migrants survive the dangerous desert crossing.
The four volunteers each face a sentence of up to six months in prison, along with a possible $500 fine. Another four NMD volunteers are set to go to trial later this month on similar charges. A ninth volunteer, Scott Warren, will face trial in May on more serious charges including felony harboring and concealment for allegedly providing food, water, clean clothes and beds to two undocumented immigrants last year. If convicted and sentenced to consecutive terms, Warren could face up to 20 years in prison.
NMD has launched a campaign demanding that the Justice Department release the defendants on humanitarian grounds.
While NMD volunteers are not speaking to media while the trials are underway, WSWS reporters were able to speak to Enrique Morones, director of Border Angels, a sister organization of the group. Border Angels has been providing humanitarian aid to…