Things That Matter

Prosecutors Are Still Trying To Convict A Man Who Left Water For Migrants Even Though A Jury Already Declined To Convict Him

Last year, we were shocked to hear that a person had been arrested for leaving water and food for undocumented people walking the treacherous path to the U.S.

Even more shocking was that border patrol agents were videotaped disposing of the much-needed water as if it were a game. The message they sent was clear: undocumented people do not deserve help and those that help them will get arrested.

One man knows this reality all too well as he was arrested and put on trial for helping save the lives of migrants attempting to cross into the US by leaving them water and food. His case resulted in a mistrial because the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.

After a jury failed to convict him, Scott Warren is again facing prison time for giving water to migrants.

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Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday they will retry humanitarian aid volunteer and immigration rights activist Scott Warren on two charges related to aiding migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.

This comes just a few weeks after a jury refused to convict Warren for providing water, food, clean clothes and beds to two undocumented migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona.

Eight jurors found Warren not guilty; four said he was. Federal prosecutors will make their case against Warren again in an 8-day jury trial in November.

If convicted on the two felony migrant harboring charges, Warren faces up to 10 years in prison.

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According to CNN, prosecutors  “unexpectedly offered a plea bargain to Warren” on Tuesday that would drop the two charges in exchange for a guilty plea on the misdemeanor charge of “aiding and abetting illegal entry without inspection.”

Whether Warren will take the plea deal remains to be seen. Warren’s lawyer says that the deal is open for 10 days and that it is up to his client to consider what action he wants to take. If Warren decided to go back to court, the trial would begin in November.

Here is Scott Warren’s statement after prosecutors made the announcement.

Leaving the courthouse, Warren expressed more allegiance than ever to the cause that he has supported so deeply:

“Today it remains as necessary as ever for local residents and humanitarian aid volunteers to stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees, and we must also stand for our families, friends, and neighbors in the very land itself most threatened by the militarization of our borderland communities.”

The new charges come after just a few weeks ago a jury in a federal court reached a mistrial and failed to convict him.

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He faced up to 20 years in jail but was freed in June after a mistrial ruling in his case. Eight of the 12 jurors wanted to acquit Warren on all three charges Arizona prosecutors had pushed.

A mistrial is not an acquittal, and Arizona prosecutors are scary crazy. It was reported on Tuesday that, while they were dropping one of the three charges, Tucson, Arizona, prosecutors would continue to pursue two charges of “harboring illegal aliens” against Warren.

One Twitter user pointed out the absurdity of the case but that the cruelty is the point with this administration.

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Not only is the Trump administration working hard to make the lives of migrants difficult and miserable once they’re in the US (especially those that are being kept in migrant detention centers) but it’s also working to criminalize those who try to help migrants.

Other’s pointed out the irony of the case given the actions of our own government.

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The news of this retrial comes as shocking reports of the conditions inside migrant detention centers are going viral.

Many on Twitter were coming for Arizona, pointing out not only the ethical blunder of the decision but also the extreme waste of tax dollars.

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Aside from sending the message that people shouldn’t help those in need, the court cases, especially if the government loses a second time, are costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a state with record low education funding and growing income inequality, you think the state would have figured out its priorities.

READ: Trial Begins For Scott Warren, The Volunteer Arrested For Giving Undocumented People Water, Saving Lives

Refugees At This Mexican Border Camp Are Facing A Severe Humanitarian Crisis Thanks To US Immigration Policy

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Refugees At This Mexican Border Camp Are Facing A Severe Humanitarian Crisis Thanks To US Immigration Policy

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We wish we were writing to tell you that the border camps are closing down. Or at least being investigated as part of the impeachment proceedings. But no, we’re yet to see any official scrutiny into the border camps and their operation. In fact, we’re here to tell you that not only is the US operating these camps and subjecting migrants to some horrific conditions, but Mexico now has some well-established border camps, too.

The main border camp in Mexico is based in Matamoros.

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Reports peg the population of Matamoros at 2,000 migrants. As for the conditions at the camp, well. They are, let’s be honest, squalid at best. Some asylum-seekers are stuck living in tents and tarpaulins, while other sleep in bushes, or just on the streets. It’s common to see asylum seekers bathing in the Rio Grande, which carries its own set of health risks – given that it is known to be contaminated with E.Coli and other unfriendly bacteria. “This is a temporary camp, so nobody is putting infrastructure. There’s no running water … no proper sanitation. There’s no way to wash your hands after you’ve used the washrooms, which are absolutely indescribable,” said the director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, in a recent interview.

Health-wise, the camp is a breeding ground for disease.

Doctors Without Borders said that in a three-week period last month, it completed 178 consultations for things such as hypertension, diabetes, diarrhoea, asthma and a bunch of psychiatric conditions. Over 50 percent of these patients were just children. And sure, health issues are just one of many problems with staying at the camp. Matamoros is known to also have its own issues with the cartels, meaning that refugees make the perfect targets for violence and sexual assaults. 

Even though this is all happening in Mexico, the core of the problem lies with US immigration policy.

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In order to solve the immigration issues happening right before our eyes, we have to first acknowledge the ways in which policy influences the situation. These migrants who are stuck in a hellish limbo in Mexico are suffering the consequences of the Trump administration’s attitudes towards asylum seekers. We’re seeing this not only in the impending Supreme Court judgment that may end the DACA program, but also the shift towards making migrants wait in a “safe third country” for their asylum applications to process.

It’s this very policy that has created what is essentially an international queue of people desperately seeking refuge from violence and natural disasters. The camp at Matamoros is a symptom of much broader issues: applications for asylum in the US need to be processed faster – and refugees should not have to literally live outside until their applications are processed.

Some experts compare the conditions to those found in massive refugee camps of Africa.

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The most stark commentary around the issue has come from Amnesty International Kenya’s executive director, Iruũgũ Houghton. “I’ve been in one of the world’s biggest camps and that’s the Dadaab camp, which is at the northern border of Kenya with Somalia and every time I’m in that space my blood boils. It really just gets to me, the level of injustice and it feels like that [in Matamoros],” said Houghton in an interview with TPR. He also pointed out that Kenya is currently playing host to 468,000 refugees – while the US, a much bigger country with considerably more wealth, has capped their refugee intake to just 18,000 people annually. Sí, amigas, none of this looks good on the international stage.

Unfortunately, this border camp business doesn’t stop at Matamoros, either.

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And no, we’re not talking about the detention centers on the US-side of the border. The migrant population is getting too big for Mexican officials to handle at Matamoros, and so they have launched a new initiative to try to get camp dwellers to move elsewhere. However, the authorities are having a hard time trying to get them to move. So much so, they have threatened to use child protection services to separate migrant families within Mexico, arguing that the current conditions in the Matamoros camp were no place for a child to live. Someone call a doctor: our eyes are rolling so far back in our heads, we’re in danger of losing them altogether.

The government is constructing a new facility nearby but it too will be too small to handle the growing crisis.

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While the new migrant shelter – a converted gymnasium – can house about 300, and is decidedly much more comfortable with its luxury of an actual roof, the migrants at Matamoros are unconvinced. The resounding fear is that, once away from Matamoros, the refugees will not have the same ease of access to aid workers, relief packages, and legal services. Whether those fears are unfounded or not remains to be seen.

Regina Romero Is Tucson, Arizona’s First-Ever Latina Mayor And Supporters Are Celebrating

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Regina Romero Is Tucson, Arizona’s First-Ever Latina Mayor And Supporters Are Celebrating

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Voters in Tucson made their voices heard on Tuesday night by electing Regina Romero, the city’s first female and first Latina mayor. The three-term former Tucson City Council member ran on a campaign platform centered around combating climate change, improving the city’s infrastructure and education system, as well as expanding opportunities for immigrant communities. 

Romero, 33,  who is Mexican-American, captured the historic victory by claiming nearly 56 percent of the vote, according to Tucson.com. She beat out opponents Ed Ackerley, an independent who received 40 percent of the vote, and Green Party candidate Mike Cease, who got 4 percent. Romero beat out two other Democrats in the party’s primary back in August.

“At a time when our national politics have been sown with division, Tucsonans remain united by our shared desire to promote a safe, just and sustainable city that provides economic opportunity for our families and future generations. This movement is open to everyone — whatever your background, whatever your party, whoever you voted for — let’s work together! We will always be one Tucson — somos uno,” Romero said at her campaign victory rally.

Romero’s victory is significant not only because of her background but because of political impact in the state of Arizona.

Credit: @LatinoVictoryUS / Twitter

The mayoral victory for Romero is a landmark moment for the typically left-leaning city of Tucson. While its population is near 44 percent Latino, the city has never elected a Latino mayor since Arizona became a U.S. state. Only once before 1854 had a Latino ever held the office.

Mayra Macías, the executive director at Latino Victory, a political action group aimed at increasing Latino voting power, said that the victory is a historic moment for all, especially women. 

“Councilwoman Regina Romero shattered one glass ceiling when she became the first Latina elected to the Tucson City Council, and now she’s broken yet another one by becoming Tucson’s first woman and first Latina mayor,” Macías said in a press release. “Her groundbreaking election is a testament of who she is as a leader and all the incredible things she’ll accomplish for the people of Tucson as their new mayor.”

There is a number of key issues that Romero will be taking on as mayor including climate change and immigration. 

One of the first issues that Romero will take on as mayor is focusing on plans that the city can implement to respond to climate change.

If we want to move our economy to a progressive place, if we want to continue investing in our infrastructure, if we want to continue creating high wage, long term jobs we have to tackle climate resiliency in our city,” Romero told Tucson.com. “We are the second city that is heating up the most right after Phoenix and so we’ve got to work immediately on it.”

She will also be taking on a more controversial issue at hand in immigration. Voters in Tucson voted against a proposed sanctuary city initiative that Romero opposed as well. Instead, she plans to work on repeal the controversial state law of SB 1070 that allows police to determine the immigration status of any individual that they stop or arrest. Romero has long advocated for immigrant rights and says that the real issue at hand isn’t the title of sanctuary city but the bill. 

“The root of the problem is SB 1070, and we’ve got to demand in a unified front with a unified voice that Governor [Doug] Ducey and the state Legislature repeal SB 1070,” Romero said.

Democratic presidential candidates chimed in on the victory throughout the day relaying the message of the importance of representation. 

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

Democratic presidential hopefuls Julián Casto, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders took to Twitter to congratulate the historic victory. Romero joins a wave of Latino firsts that have come in the last year when it comes to taking office.

“We need more Latinas to run, and win!” Castro, the lone Latino Democratic candidate, wrote on Twitter.

“Congratulations to @TucsonRomero, the first Latina mayor of Tucson, on her historic win last night—and to @LUCHA_AZ and the other grassroots community activists that fought hard for this progressive victory.” Sanders wrote. 

The mother of two children, who was born in Somerton, Arizona and graduated from the nearby University of Arizona, will now be the only Latina mayor in the country’s 50 most populous cities.

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