United States Customs and Border Patrol officers arrested an immigration activist just hours after his group presented damaging video evidence that captured CBP agents in the act of destroying humanitarian aid -- water and food -- left for undocumented immigrants trying to survive an arduous trek through the Arizona desert. Some 7,000 bodies have been found along the border wilderness. Now, it appears, some of those deaths may have been due to the Border Patrol's criminal acts.
US Agents Commit Inhumane Acts on Border; Arrest Humanitarian
Border Patrol Arrests Activist Who Gave
Undocumented Immigrants Water and Shelter Rafi Schwartz / Splinter News
No More Deaths (January 17, 2018) -- See our new report, Interference with Humanitarian Aid: Death and Disappearance on the US-Mexico Border at www.thedisappearedreport.org.
(January 24, 2018) -- United States Customs and Border Patrol officers arrested an immigration activist just hours after his group was arrested on January 17 shortly after the activist group No More Deaths released video of CPB agents dumping gallons of potentially life-saving water left for immigrants making the treacherous trip across the Mexico-Arizona border.
Warren was detained following CBP surveillance of a property near the border, in which he was allegedly harboring two undocumented immigrants and providing them with food, water, and clean clothes.
"It felt retaliatory in that it occurred less than eight hours after our press conference releasing these findings that implicated Border Patrol," No More Death volunteer Caitlin Deighan told The Arizona Republic on Monday. "But we can't confirm that with certainty."
Warren's attorney Bill Walker, however, called the arrest "absolutely" retaliation for his client's work with No More Deaths.
"We don't smuggle them, we don't do anything to help them enter the United States, we do nothing illegal," Walker said. "This place that they raided is not in the middle of the desert, it's not hidden anywhere. It's in the city of Ajo, and it's been used for a long time, not to help smuggle migrants, but to give medical care and food and water."
In response to a request for comment from CBP, agency representative Carlos Díaz told me, "this lawful law enforcement action was not related to any report," and referred me to the Department of Justice for any further statements on the arrest.
Last spring, CBP agents raided a No More Death aid camp in Southern Arizona, claiming group activists had refused their request "to question the four suspected illegal aliens [in the camp] as to their citizenship and legal right to be present in the United States."
Regardless of whether or not Warren's arrest was retaliatory, CBP officials have officially condemned the footage of their agents damaging aid for border crossers.
"All agents within Tucson sector have been instructed not to remove or destroy water stations, food or other resources left along the trails in the desert, "Border Patrol public affairs agent Christopher Sullivan told AZCentral. Sullivan claimed that this policy had been in place for years.
The two allegedly undocumented men sought by CBP during Warren's arrest reportedly turned themselves into federal authorities during the incident. A judge has ordered Warren to be released pending an upcoming trial.
(January 22, 2018) -- You could argue it's a coincidence.
Then again, you could argue it's revenge made to look like coincidence.
Which seems more likely. To me, anyway.
A volunteer with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths was arrested on a federal harboring charge only hours after the group released a report and videos showing Border Patrol agents emptying or destroying water bottles left in the desert for border crossers.
Thousands have died in the desert over the years. The Border Patrol has an official policy of not destroying the humanitarian aid. But the agents in the videos didn't seem particularly worried about getting into trouble.
It was an embarrassing display of inhumane behavior and a black eye for the agency.
Coincidence? Seems a bit of a stretch
So, did agents punch back?
Volunteer Scott Daniel Warren was busted hours after No More Deaths released its report. Agents said they surveilled a building in Ajo and arrested Warren for providing food, water, beds and clean clothes to a pair of migrants.
The attorney for Warren said that humanitarian groups had a deal with the Border Patrol and the U.S. Attorney's office that such assistance would not get them arrested.
Lawyer Bill Walker said, "We don't smuggle them, we don't do anything to help them enter the United States, we do nothing illegal. This place that they raided is not in the middle of the desert, it's not hidden anywhere. It's in the city of Ajo, and it's been used for a long time, not to help smuggle migrants, but to give medical care and food and water."
Timing of arrest pours water on theory
Do you think, maybe, that after No More Deaths released it damning report and videos the Border Patrol decided all bets were off?
"It felt retaliatory in that it occurred less than eight hours after our press conference releasing these findings that implicated Border Patrol," volunteer Caitlin Deighan said. "But we can't confirm that with certainty."
No, not with certainty.
But who believes in coincidence?
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