Why is the US cracking down on aid workers at the border?

Rights groups call on US government to stop criminalising humanitarians at Mexico frontier.
 

Scott Warren is dedicated to helping people making the gruelling trek across the US-Mexico border. But he now faces criminal charges – and possibly years in prison – for providing that often life-saving aid.

Warren is a volunteer with charity No More Deaths , which routinely helps migrants crossing the border. He was arrested and charged  last year with two counts of harbouring and one count of conspiracy after giving food, water and shelter to two undocumented migrants. Warren is currently on trial and, if convicted, he could serve up to 20 years in prison. In a separate case, Teresa Todd was stopped by police  while giving three young El Salvadorans a ride in her car. She is now the subject of an ongoing investigation. Both cases, activists say, highlight a growing trend.

Although aid workers have faced similar issues under previous US governments, rights groups say President Donald Trump’s crackdown on those helping migrants is unprecedented. The number of people federally charged with smuggling and harbouring grew by almost a third  from 2015-2018, with the biggest increase coming in 2018.

The crackdown is not only happening on the US side of the border. On June 5, Mexican authorities arrested  Irineo Mujica and Cristobal Sanchez. Both work with Pueblo Sin Fronteras , an organisation that helps migrant caravans. Mujica is also accused of being a co-conspirator in the Warren case.

As the United Nations and rights group Amnesty International urge US authorities to stop criminalising those providing aid to migrants, The Stream will look at the situation on both sides of the border and ask how aid workers are navigating an increasingly challenging environment. Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Rafael Carranza @RafaelCarranza
US-Mexico border reporter, The Arizona Republic and USA Today
azcentral.com/staff

Nicole Ramos @luzenlafrontera
Director, Border Rights Project, Al Otro Lado
https://alotrolado.org

John Fife
Reverend
nomoredeaths.org

 

Read more: 

In Scott Warren’s ‘No More Deaths’ trial, prosecutors attempt to paint a web of conspiracy – The Intercept

I gave water to migrants crossing the Arizona desert. They charged me with a felony. – The Washington Post

Facing pressure from Trump, Mexico detains two migrant caravan organizers – LA Times

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