Four volunteers from an Arizona humanitarian group were convicted of leaving food and water for migrants at a national wildlife refuge in the desert.
The decision on the four women members of No More Deaths, a group under the responsibility of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, was made by a federal judge on Friday in Tucson, the group’s Facebook page says.
The four volunteers, Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco, were charged with accessing the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Sanctuary without a permit and abandoning property, water and food, destined migrants trying to move from Mexico to the United States.
Ms. Hoffman was also convicted of driving a motor vehicle in a wilderness area.
According to No More Deaths, the four women face up to six months’ imprisonment on each of the counts for which they were convicted and a fine of up to $ 500.
They will know their sentences within 10 days.
In his ruling, Judge Bernardo Velasco noted that the wildlife refuge is “full of unexploded ordnance, debris and materials … banned in the United States and [that] there is a lot of vehicular traffic. […] border patrol, “said No More Deaths. The judge also said that the liters of water and food left behind by the defendants “weaken the national decision to maintain the refuge in its natural state of origin”.
“This verdict not only appeals to No More Deaths volunteers, but also people of conscience across the country, wrote on the Facebook page of No More Deaths Catherine Gaffney, a long-time volunteer of the group. If giving water to someone who dies of thirst is illegal, what humanity remains in the law of this country? ”
The four women were part of nine No More Deaths accused of trying to help migrants in an area of southern Arizona where at least 155 foreigners were reported to have lost their lives trying to enter the US since 2001. explained the organization on Facebook.
The trial of the others is scheduled to begin on February 26, as well as in May for Scott Warren, an activist also accused of harboring two illegal immigrants. According to KGUN, a Tucson media, he faces 20 years in jail if he is found guilty.