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Democracy Now! travels to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona to follow the humanitarian activist Scott Warren into the Sonoran Desert as he accompanies other No More Deaths volunteers as they leave water and food for migrants making the treacherous journey north. Warren is currently facing up to 10 years in prison for his humanitarian work in the Sonoran Desert, where the bodies and bones of more than 3,000 people nearly all migrants have been found since 2001.
We also speak to the Tucson-based artist Alvaro Enciso, creator of the project Where Dreams Die. He has built and installed over 900 crosses across the treacherous Sonoran Desert to mark where migrants have died.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, we're broadcasting from Tucson, Arizona. Just under three months ago, an unprecedented trial took place here. Amidst a catastrophic immigration crisis at the border, ongoing family separation, and cruel and inhumane conditions at immigrant jails across the country, the government put humanitarian activist Scott Warren on trial here in Tucson. His crime? Helping migrants who had arrived on the doorstep of a humanitarian shelter in Ajo, Arizona, seeking help after a perilous journey across the Sonoran Desert. The government charged Scott Warren, a longtime volunteer with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, with three felony counts, including conspiracy, for providing food, water and shelter to 23-year-old Kristian Perez-Villanueva from El Salvador and 20-year-old Jose' Sacaria-Goday of Honduras. All three men were arrested January 17, 2018. If convicted on all charges, Warren faced 20 years in prison. At the same time, he and other No More Deaths volunteers also faced separate misdemeanor charges for leaving water jugs and food for migrants on a national wildlife refuge in the remote desert.
The trial here in Tucson took eight days. Warren and other No More Deaths volunteers provided hours of testimony on desert conditions and the policies that push migrants deeper into the deadly region each year. After hours of deliberation, the jury returned without a verdict. Eight of the 12 jurors found Scott Warren not guilty. The government will now retry Warren in November, though they've dropped the conspiracy charge against him, will try him on two felony migrant harboring charges. If convicted, Scott Warren faces up to 10 years in prison.
As he awaits his next trial, Warren met us in the remote town of Ajo, Arizona, this weekend to show us firsthand the work he does with No More Deaths in the treacherous Sonoran Desert, just north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Since 2001, the remains of over 3,000 migrants who died in southern Arizona have been found. That's an average of more than 150 dead a year. But immigrant rights activists say the number may be closer to 10,000. We joined Scott Warren and other No More Deaths volunteers for his first trip in a year as they made a water drop in the desert.
SCOTT WARREN: We are in the center of town here, just south of the plaza, and we are at our newly opened humanitarian aid office. The office is really here to support what's been a long tradition, in this town and many other places in the borderlands, of providing humanitarian aid water and food and things like that to people who are coming through our communities.
AMY GOODMAN: So, why don't we go into the office? And I saw a map there. Can you introduce yourself?
PAIGE CORICH-KLEIM: Yeah. My name is Paige Corich-Kleim, and I'm our media coordinator, and I've been volunteering since 2013.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us where we're going to go today?
PAIGE CORICH-KLEIM: Absolutely. So, right now we're in the Ajo aid office, right here, in the town of Ajo. And we're going to drive south out of town and take a right on a road that starts as Darby Well Road but then turns into what is called the Devil's Highway, and it continues all the way to Yuma, and it's a pretty well-known road. There was a book written about it, about some migrants who died in that area. But we're going to follow the road south, right here.
AMY GOODMAN: That book was?
PAIGE CORICH-KLEIM: The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea. And it was about a group of migrants that actually died on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. So, we'll be south of where that book took place.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Scott, tell us where we're going.
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