Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Prosecution of Humanitarians in Arizona

A few months ago, criminal charges were brought against Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss. Both in their early 20s, Sellz and Strauss volunteer for the group, No More Deaths, a faith-based coalition that sets up camps in the desert borderlands of southern Arizona to provide food and water to migrants risking their lives by crossing the border illegally during the deadliest season: June to September.

The goal is to save lives, usually by providing food and water. They do not transport anyone except in dire circumstances under a doctor’s orders, and the transport is made with utmost transparency in labeled vehicles. So when Sellz and Strauss encountered three migrants who were dying in the scorching July desert sun, they transported the three for emergency medical care. They saved three lives, but Sellz and Strauss were then arrested, charged with transporting illegal aliens, and faced fifteen year prison terms.

A motion to dismiss their charges was taken under submission by the federal district court in Tucson yesterday. Amnesty International has stated that Sellz and Strauss will be considered prisoners of conscience if they are imprisoned.



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