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

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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

Immigration Officials Deported Undocumented Father Of Three Because Of His HIV Status

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Immigration Officials Deported Undocumented Father Of Three Because Of His HIV Status

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Last summer, U.S. District Attorney Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the Trump administration to stop separating children from their parents under their “zero-tolerance” policy that had begun a few months prior. However, that order did not prevent immigration officials from separating children from their parents for myriad reasons. The reasoning for continuing to separate kids from their parents (or excuse is more like it) is because officials claimed the parent was unfit to parent, they were denied asylum, or they had prior charges in their native country. Since then, more than 900 families have been affected by Trump’s anti-immigration policy, which has caused more separations between child and parent. One such case is heartbreakingly tragic because it’s a violation on multiple levels. 

Three young girls were separated from their father without an explanation. However, their dad said it’s because immigration officials found out that he is HIV-positive.

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In November 2018,  Andrea, 14, Leiliana, 13, and Sofia, 11, and their dad crossed the U.S. border in El Paso, Texas from Honduras. They, like many undocumented immigrants, were held in cold detention centers that many refer to as iceboxes. In an interview with Public Radio International, the family said that they were held in the icebox for three days, all of them together until their dad was abruptly taken away without an explanation. The dad, Jose, said he is sure that he was separated from his daughters because of his HIV-positive status. 

The father said that he brought with him two bottles of his HIV medication. When officials asked him what it was, he initially lied because “the less people know, the better.”

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Immigration officials tested the medicine and found out it was to treat people with HIV. That gave Jose the inclination to believe they deported him because of that. “It has to be that because there’s no other reason,” he told PRI. His assumption was correct. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found out the reason why Jose was taken away from his daughters, and it did have to do with his HIV status. 

Immigration officials told the ACLU that Jose’s HIV is a communicable disease and cannot be allowed in the country.

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By definition communicable disease is an” illnesses caused by viruses or bacteria that people spread to one another through contact with contaminated surfaces, bodily fluids, blood products, insect bites, or through the air.” 

Before 2010, undocumented people with HIV could not enter the U.S. but because HIV is now treatable with medication the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has removed the HIV infection from the definition of communicable disease of public health significance. Therefore immigration officials cannot use the excuse that undocumented people with HIV cannot be allowed in the U.S

The daughters said that their father is fine because he takes his medication, so why would his HIV status prevent him from entering the country? Jose also happened to fail his credible fear interview.

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Each undocumented person that enters the country and is seeking asylum status has to undergo a credible fear interview to discuss why they’re afraid to return to their country. Many undocumented people who flee Central America report they fear for their lives due to violence and persecution. Jose said police in his homeland of Honduras threatened to kill his family, but immigration officials didn’t believe him, so he was denied and deported. 

Even though Jose is back in Honduras, he could still possibly be allowed to re-enter the U.S. and see his family.

Credit: @NYCLU / Twitter

Jose’s kids are part of a class-action lawsuit by the ACLU that includes more than 900 other families that have been deported after a judge had already prohibited the separation of families. 

“It is shocking that the Trump administration continues to take babies from their parents,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project said according to NPR. “The administration must not be allowed to circumvent the court order over infractions like minor traffic violations.”

Just today, the same judge that forced the Trump Administration to end family separation last year ruled that 11 parents who were deported without their children can come back into the U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw said those parents were wrongfully denied asylum. According to CBS News, “The judge found that some of the migrants were probably coerced into authorizing their deportation and were given inaccurate or misleading information by immigration authorities.”

It is unclear if Jose is one of the eleven parents told they could come back and reunite with his three daughters, but we’re hoping he is. 

READ: Customs And Border Protections Chief Mark Morgan Defended The Mississippi Raids Despite Children Left Without Parents

AOC Called Out Rep. Steve King For Willfully Risking Pink Eye Instead Of Admitting Migrants Deserve Better Treatment

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AOC Called Out Rep. Steve King For Willfully Risking Pink Eye Instead Of Admitting Migrants Deserve Better Treatment

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The migrant detention sanitary debate has reached new depths this week when Iowa Rep. Steve King (R) tweeted a video of himself drinking water out of water fountain attached to a toilet at a migrant detention center. In the tweet, King accused Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of lying to spin “#FakeNews” about the border in order to create “click bait for Snowflakes!” You bet AOC fired back.

In case you forgot, earlier this summer, members of Congress, including AOC, toured migrant facilities in El Paso and Clint, Texas. Every member of Congress that visited the centers recalled the story of one woman who was told by an agent to drink water out of the toilet when the faucet stopped working. Rep. Ayanna Pressley even tried to open the faucet, and fiddle with it to make it function, but it simply wouldn’t work.

Rep. Steve King told a town hall meeting that he actually visited the facility and filmed himself drinking from a toilet fountain at a migrant facility and it was “actually pretty good.”

Credit: @SteveKingIA / Twitter

In the video, Rep. King is seen taking a sip from the fountain, pulling away for a couple of seconds, and going back in to finish drinking the water. Then, he swishes it around his mouth, swallows, snaps his fingers and blurts, “Not bad.”

Maura Barrett of NBC reports that Rep. King told the town hall this story: “I actually went into that cell where it was reported that they were advised they had to drink out of the toilet. I took a drink out of there. And actually pretty good! So I have a videotape and I smacked my lips, but I didn’t send it out because I thought, ‘You know, this subject just needs to go into the rearview mirror.’ Why do I bring it up now, you ask? That was a little personal experience.”

Then he started referring to migrants as “inmates” in a “prison,” that necessitate “semi indestructible” toilets.

“There’s these toilets in these prisons, are stainless steel,” he went on to say in the same report. “They’re built so that they are semi indestructible by the inmates that are there. And in the back where the lid would be on our toilet, that’s also sealed.” According to King’s understanding, “There’s a water fountain there, you push the button, the water comes out and you take a drink. It’s how it is. It’s not drinking out of the toilet, it’s drinking out of the water fountain that’s integral with the back of the toilet. But I think there was a little language barrier there and so that’s how come we got that misinformation.”

After King effectively called AOC a liar, AOC mocked what she sees as King’s proof of arrogance on the issue.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

“There is a genre of videos where GOP House members – who clearly didn’t read sworn testimony that detention sinks were broken – filming themselves drinking out of toilet sinks,” she tweeted back. “They’re so anti-immigrant they risk pink eye to show off that they didn’t do the reading. #CloseTheCamps.”

Meanwhile, the rest of Twitter is like, “que que?”

Credit: @donmoyn / Twitter

“That’s not where the water, the women were told to drink, was” tweeted  @iTibbi. “In their cell, the sink above the toilet was broken. They were told to drink the water in the toilet. What he does in that video mocks those women and the conditions they were put in. Never expect better from him.” Steve King is making zero points when he drinks out of a functioning water fountain because that was never the challenge posited to the detained women. Officers told the women to drink from the toilet bowl when the fountain stopped working. 

King was removed from the only committee assignment he ever held after he questioned why being called a “white nationalist” or “white supremacist” was so offensive.

Credit: @SteveKingIA / Twitter

In an interview with The Times Steve King actually said: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” While President Trump never condemned King’s statement, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell suggested “another line of work” was in King’s future. King never apologized or offered another opinion on white supremacy, and simply said he was misunderstood. 

One Twitter user rightly asked, “Wait, how could he get a tour but not members of the House Oversight Committee? Steve King literally sits on no committees; there is no reason for him to review migrant facilities.”

READ: Racist Congressman on National Television: What Have Non-White People Ever Done For Civilization?