TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A border activist will be retried after a jury was unable to reach a verdict on charges related to aiding migrants near Arizona’s border with Mexico, U.S. prosecutors said Tuesday.
The government dropped a conspiracy charge and will retry Scott Warren on Nov. 12 on two counts of harboring migrants, said Glenn McCormick, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.
Humanitarian groups say their work on the border has increasingly come under scrutiny under the administration of President Donald Trump, who takes a hardline approach to immigration. They say Warren’s prosecution could deter those trying to help border-crossers in desperate need of water or other necessities.
Thousands of migrants have died crossing the border since the mid-1990s, when heightened enforcement pushed migrant traffic into Arizona’s scorching deserts.
Warren, 36, was arrested early last year. During his trial in June, defense attorneys argued the college geography instructor was just being kind by giving two migrants water, food and lodging.
Prosecutors countered that the migrants were not in distress when the aid was given at a property used for helping migrants near the border.
Warren’s supporters cheered him outside the federal courthouse on Tuesday after prosecutors announced their decision. The volunteer with the No More Deaths humanitarian group thanked them and said his case had raised the public’s consciousness.
He also said his trial had led to “more volunteers who want to stand in solidarity with migrants, local residents stiffened in their resistance to border walls and the militarization of our communities, and a flood of water into the desert at a time when it is most needed.”
Humanitarian groups say they face increasing scrutiny under President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies.
“The federal government shouldn’t have arrested Scott Warren in the first place,” said the Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, president and CEO of Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
The retrial “highlights just how far the Trump administration is willing to go to punish migrants and those who provide them with life-saving assistance,” she said.