Federal Jury Unable To Convict Aid Volunteer On Charges Of Harboring Migrants

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Scott Warren, center, speaks outside federal court, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. in Tucson, Ariz., after a mistrial was declared in the federal case against him. (Astrid Galvan/AP)
Scott Warren, center, speaks outside federal court, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. in Tucson, Ariz., after a mistrial was declared in the federal case against him. (Astrid Galvan/AP)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

The trial of an Arizona activist who faced 20 years in prison for conspiracy to transport and harbor immigrants results in a mistrial. We unpack the case and message.


Rafael Carranza, reporter for the Arizona Republic covering the U.S.-Mexican border. (@RafaelCarranza)

Mark Kokanovich, former assistant U.S. attorney in Arizona. Attorney at the law firm Ballard Spahr, which represents some NPR affiliates, but not WBUR. (@kokanovich)

From The Reading List

Arizona Republic: "Judge declares mistrial in Tucson trial of aid volunteer accused of harboring migrants" — "Jurors in the high-profile felony trial against Scott Warren — a humanitarian-aid volunteer charged with harboring two undocumented immigrants in southwestern Arizona — were unable to reach a verdict, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial in the case.

"U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins brought the 12-person jury into the Tucson federal courtroom on the afternoon of June 11, after they indicated for a second time that they were deadlocked on all three charges Warren faced.

"The judge dismissed the jury after each member told him that additional time deliberating would not result in a verdict."

Washington Post: "An activist faced 20 years in prison for helping migrants. But jurors wouldn’t convict him." — "When Scott Daniel Warren was arrested last year after allegedly providing food, water, beds and clean clothes to undocumented immigrants near Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, the question was whether he had broken the law or upheld it.

"'No Más Muertes,' an advocacy group that wants 'no more deaths' of people crossing the desert regions linking Mexico and the southwestern United States, sees Warren — one of its most visible members — as an apostle of humanitarianism. His advocates say the geographer, who has taught courses at Arizona State University, was heeding both religious rules and international covenants that require sanctuary for the persecuted and the dispossessed.

"The government, however, sees Warren, 36, as a felon. Arrested by Border Patrol agents in January 2018 at a property offering aid for immigrants in Ajo, Ariz., he was accused of helping border-crossers evade authorities, which is prohibited under federal law."

New York Times: "An Arizona Teacher Helped Migrants. Jurors Couldn’t Decide if It Was a Crime." — "For 15 years, volunteers have trekked into the Arizona desert to place jugs of water, canned beans and blankets in spots where migrants traverse the most treacherous reaches of the borderlands. When those provisions have been unable to help, the volunteers have searched for migrants who are missing, and for the remains of those who have died.

"Increasingly, these kinds of efforts have landed people in jail. In 2017, a summer that saw a brutal heat wave, several volunteers with the group No More Deaths were arrested on federal misdemeanor charges for placing water in a federally protected wilderness area. The stakes were raised significantly in 2018, when Border Patrol agents set up surveillance near one of the humanitarian bases and filed three felony charges against Scott Warren, a 36-year-old geography teacher who helped a pair of migrants from Central America who had arrived there hungry, dehydrated and with blistered feet.

"Mr. Warren’s case resulted in a mistrial Tuesday, after jurors said for a second day that they were unable to reach a verdict. Judge Raner C. Collins of the Federal District Court in Tucson set a conference for July 2 to discuss how to proceed.

"The trial had drawn worldwide attention and spurred 30 vigils across the United States, a reflection of the fraught debate over immigration issues since President Trump made border security a central issue of his administration."

Stefano Kotsonis produced this segment for broadcast.

This article was originally published on June 12, 2019.

This segment aired on June 13, 2019.



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