Saturday, June 20, 2009

Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Several months ago I told the story of a Daniel Millis, a science teacher who risked his life and his freedom to leave full water jugs in the desert to keep illegal immigrants from dying of thirst as they made their way into the United States by traversing the Sonora Desert. For his trouble he was arrested, charged with littering, and hauled before a federal judge where he was found guilty and given an inconsequential fine.

Millis was a member of a group called No More Deaths, and he was distributing the water jugs in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. By committing his "crime" on a national refuge, the case became the property of the Feds. If he had left them on property belonging to the state of Arizona, the young science teacher would have probably been hung by the drunken vigilantes who gun-up and patrol the border looking for anyone who is brown and happens to be on foot.

Last December another humanitarian working with No More Deaths was arrested in the Buenos Aires Refuge for the same "crime." The evil-doer this time was 27-year-old Walter E. Staton, a resident of Tucson. Staton recently appeared before a Federal jury and was found guilty of littering.

The area where Millis and Staton distributed their containers of life-saving water has seen over twenty deaths of immigrants who were overpowered by the sun and heat as they tried to make their way to a better life. The slogan of No More Deaths is "Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime." Good words, those.

The twisted logic used by prosecutors to come up with a littering charge is that once the jugs have been emptied, they are discarded and thus become litter. As a counterbalance to that argument, No More Deaths is quick to point out that their volunteers actually pick up large quantities of litter as they go about their important work, and they produce a net positive impact on the local environment. Members of the organization and other humanitarians have suggested a compromise of placing permanent watering stations within the Buenos Aires Refuge, but that hasn't met with the approval of the Feds or the good Christian citizens of Arizona.

What would Jesus do?

2 comments:

Mike Box said...

But it makes perfect sense to Michelle Bachmann, the Representative from Bewilderment.

Peggy Plews said...

The Arizona legislature is presently pushing through a bill (hidden in the budget crisis) that will penalize anyone 'harboring' an illegal immigrant with up to ten years in prison, assuming that the act is for greed. If the act is not for greed (i.e. for humanitarian purposes?), then the offender will only get up to 5 years in prison. This bill is likely to become state law.

Also likely to become state law - unless the governor vetoes - is an expansion of the trespassing statutes to allow prosecution of undocumented immigrants as trespassers and incarceration for 6 months on the first offense and 2 1/2 years for subsequent offenses.

It would seem to cost much less and make more sense - especially in this economy - to just send those folks home. Every dollar we spend criminalizing, chasing, prosecuting, and incarcerating immigrants is another dollar taken from our schools, hospitals, and communities.