Conflict at the US/Mexico Border

By Kristine Suarez, MRC Development Intern

The line between a good Samaritan and a criminal is very thin at cities along the Mexico/US border. When an individual sees a person in need and decides to help, and that person happens to be an undocumented immigrant…Is doing the right thing worth it? And what happens next?

The Border

The United States and Mexico share a border that stretches across 1,254 miles of land, from cities to deserts. According to experts, the U.S government has been funneling migrants into the desert since the Sanctuary Movement prosecutions two decades ago. Places, such as Arizona, where there are vast acres of remote desert, are progressively turning into the beaten path into America for migrants coming from all around Central America.

The extreme heat and lack of water make the Sonoran Desert, in Arizona alone, among the deadliest. According to sources, there have been a minimum of 7,000 deaths in the desert over the past two decades.

Heroes or Criminals?

The greater question remains: If a Samaritan/Volunteer in any capacity helps an undocumented immigrant (for example, providing shelter or assisting with medical help), is that person subject to prosecution?

  • Teresa L. Todd a Texan resident stopped her motorcycle in the middle of the highway when she noticed three vulnerable young adults on the side of the road. She met three siblings from El Salvador escaping gang violence. The youngest of the three was very ill, so Teresa did what any mother would and offered help. Border patrol soon arrived at the scene. The two siblings were taken by ICE custody while the youngest was taken to the hospital for treatment. Now Todd may be facing a federal indictment for her actions.
  • Scott Warren an active member of No Mas Muertes, a humanitarian group based in Ajo, Arizona whose primary mission is to provide aid for refugees in need in the vapid desert, is facing similar charges.  Warren was indicted for two counts of harboring and one count of conspiracy. If convicted and sentenced to consecutive terms, Warren could serve up to 20 years in prison. Warren was one of nine No Mas Muertes volunteers hit with federal littering charges for leaving water on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

The answer may be more elusive than expected, while all the verdicts of these cases are unsure. These special cases are all testaments of the aggressive and strict rhetoric that has been mandated by the Trump administration. While we can argue that both individual’s actions were made in good faith, serious consequences can result. Special organizations like the No Mas Muertes are in turmoil with local border patrols and ICE enforcement, creating tension and conflict between the two.

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