A U.S. border activist testified in an Arizona court Tuesday that his work is to “alleviate suffering” not harbor undocumented migrants or help them escape U.S. border patrols.
Scott Warren, who belongs to the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, is standing for his second federal felony trial after a jury failed to reach a verdict in June, causing a mistrial.
He was arrested in January 2018 after federal agents caught him with two undocumented men from Central America. Prosecutors say he gave the men food, water and shelter and then told them how to evade a Border Patrol station.
Warren told jurors that “what guides us is the humanitarian imperative, and reducing death and reducing suffering in that desert.” He said he does not give directions or rides to migrants he meets in the desert.
Kristian Perez-Villanueva, then 23, and Jose Arnaldo Sacaria-Goday, 20, the two men found with Warren, testified at his trial last week that they had walked some 48 kilometers through the desert before finding refuge in a building used by Warren’s group.
They said Warren arrived after they did and let them stay for four days. He also arranged for the men to receive medical attention for dehydration and blisters. Both men have since been deported.
Warren’s lawyers have argued that the work done by the group, such as leaving water and food out in the desert, is akin to the work done by international aid groups in war zones.