The trial of four volunteers of the migrant rights group No More Deaths is underway in Tucson, Arizona in federal court.
The volunteers maintain they are saving lives by leaving food and water for migrants crossing through one of the most desolate and deadly terrains along the Arizona-Mexico border.
Natalie Hoffman was accused of operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area. Hoffman, Madeline Huse, Oona Holcomb and Zaachila Orozco McCormick are accused of entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit and abandoning property there. (They left 16 crates filled with water jugs and cans of beans next to the dirt-and-gravel road!)
All of the charges are misdemeanors. While the charges are relatively minor, the implications for humanitarian workers aiding migrants in the desert are enormous. No More Deaths volunteers charge that the Trump administration has ramped up efforts to stop humanitarian work in the desert.
The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge is an unforgiving terrain that includes more than 50 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. Since 2001, law enforcement and medical officials report that more than 3,000 remains have been found in Southern Arizona.
[Arizona Public Media]