Border Activist Faces Retrial On Felony Charges For Aiding Migrants

Federal prosecutors have decided to bring border activist Scott Warren to trial for a second time. His case puts a spotlight on the murky legal boundaries of humanitarian aid at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Warren is a Mountain West native and a volunteer with the faith-based migrant advocacy group, No More Deaths. He was facing three felony charges and prison time for allegedly harboring and conspiring to transport two undocumented migrants in Arizona, but his trial ended in a hung jury at a US District court in Tucson last month, with the majority voting for acquittal.

At a hearing this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office said they would pursue a retrial on the two harboring charges. They dropped the conspiracy charge. They also offered Warren a deal to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of aiding and abetting undocumented migrants in exchange for dropping the felony charges. Warren hasn’t announced whether or not he will take that offer.

Sign in the Arizona desert
Credit Ana Adlerstein
Sign in the Arizona desert

The Reno native did speak to supporters outside this week’s hearing. He said he didn’t know what the government hoped to accomplish through a retrial.

“I do know what the effect of all this has been and will continue to be,” he added. “A raising of public consciousness, a greater awareness of the humanitarian crisis on the borderland, more volunteers who want to stand in solidarity with migrants, local residents stiffened in their resistance to border walls and the militarization of our communities, and a flood of water into the desert in a time when it is most needed.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it can’t comment on pending litigation. The new trial is set for Nov. 12.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.