How giving water to illegal immigrants became a religious freedom issue


SALT LAKE CITY — Is caring for migrants a legally protected act of faith?

That remains unclear after a U.S. district judge declared a mistrial in a high-profile immigration case this week.

Scott Daniel Warren, a 36-year-old geographer in Arizona, faced felony charges for allegedly aiding two illegal immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. He’d been arrested in January 2018 after Border Patrol agents observed him appearing to offer directions to the two men.

“Warren was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants, which carries a 10-year sentence, and two counts of harboring them,” The New York Times reported.

Warren, who volunteers for a religiously affiliated organization called No More Deaths, and his supporters argued that basic humanitarian values justified his actions and that he was protected by religious freedom law. They questioned why someone should be punished for saving other people’s lives.

“Humanitarian aid is not a crime,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement about the case, according to the Times.

Attorneys for the U.S. government, on the other hand, said Warren’s goal was undermining immigration law, not protecting people in need. They argued legal action was necessary in order to ensure border security.

“This case is not about humanitarian aid, or anyone in medical distress,” Nathaniel Walters, one of the prosecutors, told the Times.

Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

This March 2, 2019, file photo, shows a Customs and Border Control agent patrolling on the U.S. side of a razor-wire-covered border wall along the Mexico east of Nogales, Ariz.

Warren’s case is part of the Trump administration’s broader crackdown on illegal immigration. Since 2017, government officials have prioritized charging volunteers along the border, treating them at times like professional smugglers.

“In fiscal year 2018 there were more than 4,500 people federally charged for bringing …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories

      

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