The people crossing the border might be wrong…
But providing them with humanitarian aid shouldn’t make someone a criminal…
A federal judge in Tucson overturned the convictions of four humanitarian aid volunteers found guilty last year of leaving food and water for migrants trekking through protected Arizona wilderness, saying their work was part of their “sincere religious beliefs.”
In January 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco found Natalie Hoffman, a volunteer with humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, guilty on all three charges she faced. He also found three other volunteers – Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick – guilty of the two charges each.
Their convictions came from citations they received on Aug. 13, 2017, for entering Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge without a permit, and leaving behind 1-gallon water jugs and cans of beans at drop stations in the refuge that No More Deaths has used for years.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Márquez issued a 22-page decision reversing Velasco’s guilty verdicts for all four volunteers, after the four appealed their convictions.
“Defendants met their burden of establishing that their activities were exercises of their sincere religious beliefs, and the Government failed to demonstrate that application of the regulations against Defendants is the least restrictive means of accomplishing a compelling interest,” Márquez concluded.
Monday’s reversal of the four convictions is the latest blow to government prosecutors who sought to take a tougher stance and prosecute humanitarian-aid workers in the past two years….