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.

Credit: @thedailybeast / Twitter

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.

Credit: @theintercept / Twitter

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.

Credit: @hshaban / Twitter

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.

Credit: @thedailybeast / Twitter

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.

Credit: @NoMoreDeaths / Twitter

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.

Credit: @KristinMinkDC / Twitter

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

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Things That Matter

9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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Arizona Congresswoman Says That Hispanics Are ‘Good Workers’ But Shouldn’t Get Vaccines Before ‘American Citizens’

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Arizona Congresswoman Says That Hispanics Are ‘Good Workers’ But Shouldn’t Get Vaccines Before ‘American Citizens’

Photo via Getty Images

Coronavirus infection rates are falling drastically, but a new debate rages on: how to quickly, effectively, and ethically distribute vaccines to as many people as possible.

Last week, Arizona Congresswoman Debbie Lesko stated that Hispanic people–despite being “good workers”–shouldn’t get vaccinated before “American citizens”.

“I worked with people that are Hispanic,” Rep. Lesko said “I mean they’re very good workers…We’re compassionate people, but for goodness sakes, we have to take care of American citizens, or people that are here legally, first.”

She continued: “I’m just not going to be able to explain to my senior citizens that we’re giving away the vaccines to people that (are) here illegally. I just think that’s totally wrong.”

“My Democratic colleagues are putting illegal immigrants over them,” Lesko said during the hearing. “If I read it right, all this amendment says is put Americans first. Put Americans first, and once they’re all vaccinated, then you can go to the illegal immigrants.”

The statement was made during a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing where representatives were debating an amendment to a COVID-19 relief bill.

The Republican amendment suggested prioritizing American citizens over non-citizens when it comes to getting vaccinated first. Democrats argued that purposefully excluding non-citizens from getting vaccinated would keep the virus from being properly contained.

“The vaccine has no clue about where you come from, whether you have papers, whether you’re considered a citizen or legal or not,” said Democratic Congresswoman from Illinois, Jan Schakowsky. “It makes no sense. This is dangerous.”

Arizona State Senator Martin Quezada told NBC News that Lesko’s statement “reeks of racism.”

“There are a lot of people of color in her district and for her to be disconnected and really that offensive about how she sees us, as nothing more than good workers and not entitled to equitable vaccine distribution,” he said.

When asked about her remarks, Rep. Lesko defend them to political outlet The Hill: “Taken in context, my remarks clearly were aimed at ensuring that seniors receive taxpayer-funded vaccines before illegal immigrants,” she said. “During debate on the amendment, after being interrupted several times, I said something that could be misinterpreted, but it certainly was not my intent.”

But it seems that it this point, Lesko is trying to do damage control. Just today, she tweeted out a picture of the local “Hispanic Advisory Board”, accompanied by a caption written completely in Spanish.

“Estoy orgullosa por el lanzamiento de nuestra Junta Asesora Hispana, la primera reunión fue anoche,” the tweet read. “Esta se enfocará en las maneras en que podemos servir mejor a los miembros de nuestra comunidad Hispana en Arizona!” (“I am proud of the launch of our Hispanic Advisory Board, the first meeting was last night. It will focus on ways we can better serve members of our Hispanic community in Arizona!“)

Serving a state that is 30% Hispanic, it seems like Lesko may now be regretting her previous comments…

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