Court Proceedings Continue After Arrests Of No More Deaths Volunteers

TUCSON – The humanitarian aid group No More Deaths has faced 36 misdemeanor cases brought by federal authorities in the past 15 years. It has not lost a single one.

Attorney William Walker has represented the group in all 36 cases, but a recent round of arrests have put nine volunteers in limbo at a time when the relationship between No More Deaths and Border Patrol is perhaps more tense than ever.

Eight of the nine volunteers are facing federal misdemeanor charges; Scott Daniel Warren, the ninth volunteer, is looking at a felony, accused of harboring undocumented immigrants.

“Although we have also had some strife with law enforcement, we have always gotten along more than we have fought them,” Walker said. “Now, there’s no way to reason with them.”

Warren attended a Feb. 7 status hearing at the U.S. District Court in Tucson with his new lawyer, Gregory Kuykendall. Kuykendall declined to comment on the case.

Paige Corich-Kleim, another No More Deaths volunteer, attended Warren’s status hearing with numerous other volunteers to show their support.

“It’s upsetting because I think we have a really clear mission,” she said, “and a lot of us have found (human) remains in that area, so it makes sense that we would put water and food out there. So for them (the volunteers) to be criminalized for that is really upsetting, and it fits into a trend of criminalization of migrants as well.

“People get felony and misdemeanor federal charges everyday for crossing the border. But this is kind of this escalation of that, where now they’re also targeting the people who are trying to work with that population.”

Warren’s next hearing is set for Friday, March 2, for a video deposition of material witnesses.

Walker said he could not disclose information on Warren’s change in legal representation, citing confidentiality. But he added his legal team plans to do everything they can to assist members of No More Deaths who have been charged.

“These people have done nothing wrong except be the best of us,” Walker said of the volunteers. “(They are) the type of people who want to save lives no matter whose life it is, and we have always been that way.”

Walker is representing the other eight No More Deaths volunteers charged with misdemeanors: Natalie Renee Hoffman, Oona Meagan Holocomb, Madeline Abbe Huse, Zaachila I. Orozco-McCormick, Caitlin Persis Deighan, Zoe E. Anderson, Logan Thomas Hollarsmith and Rebecca Katie Grossman-Richeimer. They are facing multiple charges of “driving on a wilderness area,” “abandonment of property” and “entering a wildlife refuge without a permit” in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge near Ajo on Aug. 13, 2017.

A status hearing for them is set for Friday, Feb. 23.

Despite the nine recent arrests, No More Deaths has continued its humanitarian work along the U.S.-Mexico border, but not without obstacles.

Last April, Corich-Kleim met with Cabeza Prieta management and she said “they were really hesitant to grant any sort of permission” to the group.

Corich-Kleim also attended a public meeting for land managers in Ajo a few weeks ago to discuss recovered human remains along that area. She said the land managers were intrigued by her methodology and data.

“Basically, (the meeting) told me they actually don’t know how many people are being found dead on the land that they manage,” Corich-Kleim said. “Which I think is really shocking, and I think kind of might be why they are really hesitant to work with us – because they themselves don’t actually understand the level of this crisis.”

Lee Sandusky, also with No More Deaths, said group members have been declined and “blocked” from receiving permits to enter the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

Last summer, Cabeza Prieta officials added a clause in their permitting rules prohibiting the placement of leave food, water, blankets, medical aid, or any other humanitarian aid on the refuge.

Cabeza Prieta representatives declined to comment for this story, deferring questions to the Tucson U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice.

Attorney Walker said No More Deaths is not conducting illegal activity by leaving humanitarian aid in the desert for crossing migrants.

“It is also not against the law to provide water, to provide food, to provide medical care to migrants,” Walker said. “That’s not in furtherance of their illegal presence here. That’s just saving lives. It’s political neutral, it’s immigration law neutral, it’s what the Red Cross does and nobody blames the Red Cross for doing it.”

9 Comments on "Court Proceedings Continue After Arrests Of No More Deaths Volunteers"

  1. While some members of No More Deaths do provide humanitarian aid, some of their members actually harbor illegal aliens and assist in their escape. Years ago, I had a face-to-face interview with the head spokesperson at their home in the mid-town area. Interestingly, there were two tents set up in the cluttered front yard with people hiding in them. When I began to walk over to inspect the tents, the homeowner hurried me away to finish the interview. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two men scurry toward the house. While I laud the humanitarian efforts of the group (helping those dying of dehydration or a major health issues), they have been breaking the law by aiding and abetting illegal aliens and should be punished with jail time.

  2. The Oracle of Tucson | February 20, 2018 at 8:25 am |

    I remember when the first handicapped parking spaces appeared. Little old ladies with canes used them. Now the grandson borrows grandma’s car and parks right in front of total wine for a fast dash into the store for a cold six pack.
    If caught he’ll be cited, but with manpower shortages and real issues to address it’s often overlooked.
    Crime is crime, aiding, abetting and harbouring criminals is also a crime.
    If you aided or harboured a bank robber on “humanitarian” grounds would you expect a free pass?
    Prosecute these people to the full extent of the law. Charge them with littering if needed, but get them out of the way of the border patrol to do is job.
    At some point all these special law breakers need to realize they’re not special, thier criminals committing criminal acts.
    You can put as much lipstick as you want on a pig but at the end of the day it’s still a pig.
    Criminal aliens are criminals illegally entering our country violating our laws…

    The Oracle

  3. There’s nothing “humanitarian” about giving desperate people the delusion that when they break the US immigration laws by illegally crossing the desert Southwest into the US, when their water or food runs low No More Deaths volunteers will be there to give them aid and comfort. Our southwestern High Desert is a perfect example of the oft-stated phrase, “There ain’t nothing nice about Nature!” It is a beautiful High Desert, but it can and will kill anybody/thing that attempts to cross it unprepared.

  4. borderbill (a NIMBY/BANANA) | February 20, 2018 at 9:11 am |

    Those who enter the country illegally are (wait fer it—–) illegals! Those who aid them are wrong. Those who have hyphenated names are silly.

  5. How can it be characterized as humanitarian to induce illegal border crossing migrants to risk death from lack of food and water when that can only be accomplished by guaranteeing food and water for every at risk border crosser, something these “volunteers” cannot do? This conclusion is incontrovertible, as proven by the hundreds of deaths due to exposure, etc. since this group began their activities. These “volunteers” are not the “best of America” because NO American wants to see anymore of these deaths. The “volunteers” are simply well meaning Americans whose good intentions may result in harm to those crossing illegally and who would not otherwise hazard the risk of crossing an uninhabited desert knowing the true facts of the situation, that there is no guarantee that the necessary help will be where an illegal crosser is when he/she needs help.
    The only way anyone can guarantee “no more deaths” in this manner is for migrants to apply for legal migration as many millions have done before them and continue to do every day. There is no “trend of criminalization of migrants” as Corich-Kleim alleges. ANYONE who migrates to our country as prescribed by our laws is more than welcome and all Americans feel for those who lose their lives trying to come here without permission for whatever their particular reasons for doing so may be but neither should any of us feel guilty for the harm anyone suffers for the ill considered choices they make for themselves.

  6. Albert Lannon | February 20, 2018 at 4:44 pm |

    “There is a real world, muchachos, and you are in it.” — B. Traven, Treasure of Sierra Madre.

    For all the shoudla woulda couldas, the fact is people are going to continue crossing the desert and some — including children who had no say in the journey — will die of dehydration. It is no more wrong to set out water than it is to drop a quarter into a street person’s hat — without knowing if that person is a thief, murderer, user of illegal drugs, etc. etc. If people profess to be “pro-life,” then perhaps they should be the ones setting out the water jugs, just to be consistent.

    The immigration issue is complex, and there is a part the USA has played with NAFTA and maquiladoras and taking half the country by force in the first place. It ain’t as one-sided as some would have us believe, and maybe we should stop name-calling and try to work out an acceptable solution. I mean, when we talk about drug smuggling, it ain’t space aliens buying all those drugs, it it?

    • No, they won’t continue crossing without the aid and abetting of liberals. Before you transplanted from San Francisco and there were no sympathizers the crossers knew crossing the desert was not possible. But liberals have now baited them to cross. Worse than slavery, liberals have no bounds to have their lesser class.

    • The Oracle of Tucson | February 21, 2018 at 1:00 am |

      So Albert, you’ve lost me on this, am I to understand that if I stop calling criminal aliens criminal aliens they’ll stop coming?
      Applying that same insight, am I then to blame for this criminal trespass because I call criminal aliens criminal aliens?
      We need the wall in place to stop this illegal and criminal invasion.
      I actually find the term criminal alien to be an appropriate use of the English language. This PC undocumented migrant bullshit of sugar coating words is insulting to anyone with an IQ above single digits.
      Their presence on US soil is infact a criminal act. This is because they are foreign nationals or ALIENs, so while you want the name calling to stop the tidal wave of criminal aliens will continue.
      If you really wanted to save lives, you’d support the constriction of the wall. Your failure to support the wall exposes hypocrisy of your lies.

      The Oracle

    • This is what these sympathizers are facilitating, assisting the drug cartel coyotes.

      “80% Of Central American Women, Girls Are Raped Crossing Into The U.S.”

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