People Who Left Food, Water in Desert Where Migrants Died Face Jail Time

The volunteers estimate that 155 people have died in the area.

migrant aid volunteers
Some 155 people have died in the Cabeza Prieta wilderness near Ajo, Arizona while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. (Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images)
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Four aid volunteers who left food and jugs of water for migrants inside an Arizona national wildlife refuge might now face jail time for their good deed.

The members of the No More Deaths ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson were convicted of entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit and abandonment of property on Friday after they located the area where many migrants have died while trying to cross into the U.S., CNN reported.

They each face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $500.

“This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country,” No More Deaths volunteer Catherine Gaffney said in a statement. “If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”

In a separate case, five more No More Deaths volunteers face charges for “efforts to place life-saving food and water” inside the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, the aid group said. Those aid workers will have trials in February and March.

The refuge is Arizona’s largest wilderness area at 803,418 acres inside the Sonoran Desert. In 2001, at least 14 migrants died after likely being abandoned in the wilderness by people smugglers, a joint U.S.-Mexico investigation unveiled. Since then, No More Deaths estimates that some 155 more people have died in the desert while attempting to cross the southern border .

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