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Trial begins in the case of ASU teacher charged with harboring undocumented immigrants

ASU faculty associate Scott Warren could face up to 20 years in prison

No More Deaths (2).jpg
Protesters hold up signs outside the District Court House in Tucson, Arizona, on the first day of the trail of ASU faculty associate Scott Warren on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.

The federal trial of ASU faculty associate Scott Warren's aid to undocumented immigrants officially began following a press conference and jury selection in Tucson on Wednesday.

Warren, a volunteer with the humanitarian group No More Deaths, was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol in Ajo, Arizona, on suspicion of concealing, harboring or shielding two undocumented immigrants in January 2018.

Warren faces felony charges on counts of "harboring illegal aliens" and "conspiricy to transport and harbor illegal aliens," according to court reccords, and could face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

No Más Muertes ASU, a student branch of No More Deaths, was at the courthouse Wednesday protesting the charges against Warren and “standing in solidarity” with him.

Alexia Isais, a member of No Más Muertes ASU, said the group believes the charges against Warren should be dropped. 

“We all have the right to help those around us,” Isais said. “We have the right to stand in solidarity with the migrant community as well. ... If they charge Dr. Scott Warren with 20 years in prison, it will be a direct attack upon all of us, basically.”

Isais, an incoming sophomore and global studies major at ASU, said the charges are difficult for her to wrap her head around. 

“It doesn't seem like any thought was really put into that charge,” she said. “It just seems like they sort of slapped 20 years on him for no particular reason except to continue the sort of criminalization we have against people who are directly helping people at the border.”

Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler, a staff member with No More Deaths, said the organization is worried and upset over the charges against Warren. 

“We certainly are worried and upset that something like this would come down," Orlovsky-Schnitzler said. "Because what Scott did, and what so many people in the borderlands do — providing care to those who need it, food, water, etc. — it's a very everyday occurrence. And we understand that if those kinds of common acts of kindness are criminalized, where does this go from here?"

Orlovsky-Schnitzler said No More Deaths finds the charges unacceptable and feels they are criminalizing humanitarian aid. 

“Do we need to check the paperwork of our friends before we break bread with them and share a meal?” she said. “Are you going to need to set up a checkpoint at a soup kitchen to make sure that everyone has paperwork? We just feel that it's a quick and slippery slope from here. We want to make sure that humanitarian aid is upheld as a human right.”  

Mark Warren, Scott Warren’s father, spoke at a press conference held before the jury selection Wednesday posted on No More Deaths' Facebook page. 

“We were pressed to learn that he was facing serious federal charges that could result in his incarceration for many years,” Mark Warren said. “We had always been concerned, worried as parents, about his work in a dangerous and tumultuous region; we just never really imagined that one of the great dangers he faced was from our own government.”

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