Lock 'em up! "No More Deaths" humanitarians found guilty of placing water drops to save lives of migrant desert crossers
Paul Ingram, TucsonSentinel.com
Four No More Deaths volunteers, charged with federal misdemeanors after they left water and food for migrants crossing Southern Arizona's protected Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, have been found guilty, U.S. District Court Judge Bernardo Velasco ruled late Friday.
In a court decision released late Friday, Velasco said that the four women — Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick — violated federal laws, because "they did not get an access permit, they did not remain on designated roads, and they left water, food, and crates in the Refuge," he wrote.
"All of this, in addition to violating the law, erodes the national decision to maintain the Refuge in its pristine nature," Velasco said. They each face up to six months in prison and a fine of $500, and will be sentenced sometime after February 18, he said.
The case has major implications for the future of humanitarian aid for people crossing through Arizona's deserts, especially in the remote stretch of landscape known as the Growler Valley, which sets inside 800,000 acres of protected wilderness in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. No More Deaths is among the local humanitarian groups that provides aid — including water stations in rugged areas far from populated areas — for border crossers who might otherwise be numbered among the dead in the desert. More.