NYC-DSA Statement on No More Deaths Arrests

On Friday, January 19, a federal judge convicted four humanitarian aid workers for leaving life-saving water and food on a “trail of death” in the Arizona desert. The four women are members of No More Deaths, a grassroots group based in Arizona that provides humanitarian aid to migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco were charged with entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit and abandonment of property, and Ms. Hoffman was also charged with operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area, all misdemeanor offenses. According to a press release from No More Deaths, “Sentencing for each charge can range from 0 to 6 months of time in federal prison and a fine of up to $500.” The women’s legal defense included the argument that they had been acting out of their “moral, ethical and spiritual belief to help other people in need,” but the judge rejected this claim. Moreover, this is only the first of several cases being prosecuted by the government against humanitarian volunteers this year.

In the No More Deaths statement, a long-time member of the group says, “This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country. If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”

The Immigrant Justice Working Group (IJWG) of New York City Democratic Socialists of America stands with No More Deaths and its volunteers who are working to prevent deaths that are caused by inhumane U.S. border policies and enforcement. The increasing militarization of the U.S. border has made migrant crossings dangerous and even deadly. Molly Crabapple of the NYC-DSA IJWG says, “These convictions are part of the global criminalization of refugee and immigrant solidarity.”  The NYC-DSA IJWG calls for the abolition of any law, organization, or policy that imprisons or restricts the free movement of people, especially those with such clear human tolls as these prosecutions.

January 24, 2019