US files motion to prevent Scott Warren from discussing Trump administration

The motion calls discussion of President Donald Trump and his administration "irrelevant" to the trial

U.S. attorneys filed a motion on Oct. 31, 2019, to prevent activist and former ASU faculty associate Scott Warren from discussing President Donald Trump and his administration during Warren's upcoming trial involving harboring immigrants in the U.S. 

The motion, filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, asks the court to prevent the defense from "mentioning the President, his administration or his administration’s policies" during the trial, as it would be "irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial."

Warren was arrested in January 2018 in Ajo, Arizona, while working as a volunteer with the humanitarian group No Más Muertes, or No More Deaths. 

He was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents who were surveilling a building known as "the Barn," a location known for providing food, water, shelter and other supplies to migrants.  

He stood trial in June on three counts of harboring and conspiring to harbor immigrants. The trial was declared a mistrial after the jurors failed to reach a verdict. The trial also garnered national media attention. 

Federal prosecutors will retry Warren on two counts of harboring, dropping the conspiracy to harbor charge. The motion to ban Warren and his defense from discussing the president and his administration is for the upcoming Nov. 12 trial.  

READ MORE: Scott Warren speaks to ASU No Más Muertes chapter about trial, activism

Warren's attorney declined to comment to The State Press, saying that he cannot give pretrial comments. Both Department of Justice lawyers in the case did not respond to a request for comment. 

Michael Ostling, the adviser for No Más Muertes ASU, who chose to speak on his own behalf instead of as a representative of the club, said the argument Trump and his policies are not relevant to Warren's case is incorrect. 

"I would say that it is ridiculous," Ostling said. "This is a trial about the criminalization of humanitarian aid, and that criminalization is taking place under the Trump administration and because of Trump administration policies. It is absolutely relevant to talk about that."

MaryKelly Starrs, president of No Más Muertes ASU and a junior studying global health, agreed the trial was "ridiculous."

"The fact that Warren could potentially face up to 20 years in prison for providing food, water and medical care to human beings in need represents how morally corrupt the U.S. is or has always been," Starrs wrote in a statement via Twitter direct message to The State Press.

Starrs wrote that the policies upheld under the Trump administration are relevant to the trial because they are what Warren and No Más Muertes are pushing back against. 

"These policies weren't created by Trump, but he does represent the continuation of them and the dehumanization of black and brown lives," Starrs said. "It is not irrelevant nor unfairly prejudicial, because Warren represents all of the humanitarian activists in trying to dismantle the system that is killing hundreds of migrants (and) refugees."

Ostling said that to him, it is "pretty clear" the trials are "retribution against No More Deaths," for posting a video of Border Patrol agents destroying the water bottles and other supplies the group had left behind for migrants. 

Warren was arrested by Border Patrol agents hours after the video was posted. 

"I'd say the trials are an attempt to send a chilling message to people who would like to keep other people from dying," Ostling said. 

Ostling said the trials have given No Más Muertes and other similar humanitarian groups a lot of press and support nationwide.  

"(The government and Border Patrol) are taking this person who is doing wonderful work, but was rather obscure two years ago, and they're making him internationally known," Ostling said.

Starrs wrote that she hopes the charges are dropped against Warren so he can continue his humanitarian work. 

"If his charges aren't dropped this will only make it harder for the work No Más Muertes does, and it will result in more migrant deaths if the U.S. government refuses to change its policies and continue cracking down on humanitarian aid for migrants/refugees," Starrs wrote. 


Reach the reporter at krquaran@asu.edu and follow @kiaraquaranta on Twitter. 

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