Readers Write: No mas muerte (no more deaths) at the border

Readers Write: No mas muerte (no more deaths) at the border

There is a recent photograph of a father and his 2-year-old daughter lying dead in the Rio Grande River.

It has gone viral. This photo would not exist if it weren’t for the Trump administration’s policy of “zero tolerance.” But what I am about to relate is a different story. It has to do with the humanitarian efforts of a U.S. citizen whose compassion led to his being charged by our government with a variety of crimes. The other day, when I checked my e-mail, I found a petition sponsored by It read in part:

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office must drop all charges against Dr. Scott Warren stemming from his humanitarian aid work in the U.S.-Mexican border region of Arizona. Furthermore, The USAO must also cease persecution of all humanitarian aid workers and allow them to provide life-saving aid without fear of government harassment and persecution.”

This sounded like a good cause and since I am vociferously against harassment and persecution, I signed the petition. I then came across a letter which appeared in the Washington Post written by the accused, Scott Warren. He wrote:

“After a dangerous journey across Mexico and a difficult crossing through the Arizona desert, someone told Jose and Christian [two migrants] that they might find water and food at place in Ajo called the Barn. There, the two young men were able to eat, rest and get medical attention. As the two were preparing to leave, the Border Patrol arrested them. Agents also handcuffed and arrested me for, in the agency’s words, ‘having provided the two migrants with food, water, clean clothes and beds.’ This week (needs update) the government will try me for human smuggling. If convicted, I may be imprisoned for up to 20 years.”

The possibility of such a harsh sentence does not comport with the New Testament, Matthew 25:35, which reads: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in.” But maybe it is unfair to compare the Trump administration’s morally bankrupt border policy with any humanitarian standard.

Scott Warren’s trial took place and was widely reported.

One Arizona newspaper ran the headline: “Hung jury split 8-4 on charges against border aid worker.” The eight votes were to acquit, while four jury members thought Scott was guilty. The Arizona Daily Star reported that “national news media followed the case and United Nations experts condemned the arrest. Warren’s supporters packed the courtroom gallery each of the seven days of the trial and lined a hallway outside the courtroom as the jury deliberated for three days.” On June 11 The New York Times said since there was a hung jury, “Judge Raner C. Collins of the Federal District Court in Tucson set a conference for July 2 to discuss how to proceed.”

Carrot Quinn writing in The Guardian said the humanitarian organization called “No More Deaths” had released a report documenting the systematic destruction by the Border Patrol “of water and food supplies left in the desert for migrants. Over a four-year period, 3,856 gallons of water have been destroyed.” There was also a video showing border patrol agents pouring gallons of precious water or pouring them onto the ground. Where is the welcoming spirit that Emma Lazurus so eloquently expressed when she wrote “send me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore?” Have we forgotten that we are a nation of immigrants?

Dr. Hal Sobel

Great Neck

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