A federal court in Arizona convicted four women after they left containers of water in the desert for migrants who illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico. The volunteers for a non-profit group illegally entered the Cabeza Prieta refuge and left water jugs to help migrants make their trek across the desert.
Prosecutors told the judge the women violated federal law by entering the 860,000-acre refuge while carrying out their mission to leave water for the migrants. The women were convicted in a three-day bench trial for entering Cabeza Prieta without a permit and could face up to 60 days in federal prison, the Washington Post reported.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco told the women that their actions violated “the national decision to maintain the Refuge in its pristine nature.” The judge went on to say the women committed the crimes under a false belief they would avoid prosecution. He said they believed they would simply be banned from the park or fined. Now they face jail time.
The women are members of a non-profit organization, No More Deaths, whose mission is to bring faith-based groups together to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert.
“This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers but people of conscience throughout the country,” No More Deaths volunteer Catherine Gaffney said. “If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”
Five additional volunteers face trial in February and March.
Prosecutors told the judge that the women should have been aware that leaving the plastic jugs in the refuge would be a punishable crime. They said the women admitted to willingly violating the law, according to a report by the Arizona Republic. Prosecutors argued that the emergency beacons operated by Border Patrol agents are more effective because they result in “actual rescues.”
Nearly 400 migrants lost their lives during illegal border crossings or in their attempts to march through hazardous regions like the Arizona desert, Breitbart News reported. Due to the partial government shutdown, final numbers for the year are not readily available. More than 100 of these deaths occurred in the Arizona desert.
Human Borders, another non-profit group, compiled data on the number of deaths in Arizona between October 1999 and April 2018. The group reported 3,244 during that period.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face