Things That Matter

A Judge Has Barred Scott Warren From Mentioning Trump By Name In His Second Trial About Leaving Water For Migrants

For all the horrible stories we read about immigration policies in the Trump era, which has revealed perhaps the worst of some people, we sometimes get acquainted with the good deeds of unsung heroes who risk their safety and even engage in legal battles to help others. Such is the case of an 37-year-old Arizonan man who is going on trial for the second time due to his volunteer work for an organization that helps migrants in need. Learn his name: Scott Warren. He could be seen as a true hero even if the authorities seem to disagree.

So who is Scott Warren?

This activist works with the organization No More Deaths, which provides basic survival needs to migrants who cross the US-Mexico border with an undocumented status. He hails from the small Arizonan town of Ajo, a mere 40 miles from the border. The group’s activities include dropping water in the desert to prevent severe dehydration (and possible death) among undocumented migrants. They also run a camp to help injured migrants, a building known as “The Barn”.

Warren and the organization basically help in preventing horrible deaths in the desert. Is caring for fellow human beings a crime now? It is important to stress out the gravity of the situation: thousands of migrants have died since the 1990s trying to cross the border into the Arizonan desert, a fierce landscape where even a small injury, let’s say a sprained ankle, can mean imminent death.

The first trial ended in a mistrial last June when the jury was deadlocked.

Credit: TruthOut

So this is the second time that Warren will face a judge and jury. Back in June he was arrested for giving migrants water. He has said that he was just aiding two men who were trying to cross the border. Records show that an anonymous call alerted the authorities about No More Death’s activities. The authorities closed in on the organization and in January 2018 Warren was arrested on two harbouring felony charges. Alongside him, two male Central American migrants were arrested and then deported. Warren insisted that they were in distress and was merely saving their lives.

The prosecutors argue that they were not under an imminent threat to their lives, and therefore Warren was conspiring with the undocumented men. And here his troubles began. Prosecutors also said that the conspiracy was effectuated when Warren allegedly gave the men directions on how to avoid a border patrol checkpoint after they left “The Barn”.

Now the second trial has started and prosecutors are requesting some pretty outlandish things… like not naming Trump!

The prosecutors are well aware of how politicized this trial has become, and are presenting the judge with some pretty over-the-top requests. Chief among them: they want to forbid Warren and the defense from mentioning Donald J. Trump and his administration. The reason behind this: Warren and is group have expressed that, under the Trump government, humanitarian border groups have become increasingly targeted by the authorities. The prosecutor insists that any mention of Trump would trigger prejudice and affect the outcome. The judge ruled Tuesday on the request and said he won’t allow the defense to inject politics (ie. Trump’s name) into the case.

As reported by The Guardian: “Warren’s defense attorneys have said that the government’s request would violate Warren’s rights and that the prosecution has not shown in what way it would suffer if the president were mentioned”.

As ABC 15 Arizona reports: “Greg Kuykendall, Warren’s attorney, said Trump is responsible for the prosecution of his client, and contended the Republican president should be mentioned ‘as frequently and repeatedly as anyone wants.”

So Trump is now a Voldemort case then? He shall not be named…

Do the authorities want to make an example of Scott Warren? This case could set legal and ethical precedents for future trials.

Credit: NoMoreDeaths.org

Warren is not the first member of No More Deaths to be arrested, but he is the only one who has been presented with felony charges. In fact, other members have been accussed of vandalism (allegedly interfering with security cameras even). In the first trial, Defense Attorney Greg Kuyendall presented his counter in the closing arguments: “Everything in this case points to the fact that Scott Warren never committed a crime. Scott’s whole life is about preventing suffering, healing suffering, and providing humanitarian aid”.

This case goes beyond Scott Warren and it is important because it can set a legal precedent in which other cases concerning humanitarian aid could be based. This case presents both ethical and legal issues that are complex and very politically charged in a day and age in which more help is needed than ever, and immigration issues are the cornerstone of political platforms on both sides of the aisle.

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