The official policy toward immigrants in the U.S. has resulted in plenty of anger and dissent among Americans since President Donald Trump took office. Last year the president started separating migrant children from their parents and keeping them in detention centers in the middle of the desert, and since his campaign, he has been talking about setting up a wall along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent South Americans from coming into the country.
Now the justice system has taken their disdain for immigrants out on four humanitarian aid volunteers. As reported by the Arizona Central, a federal judge found the four women guilty on a number of charges after they were found leaving food and water in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which sits right along the border.
The area is known to be the site of many human remains discovered every year.
Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick volunteer with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, was found guilty by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco on charges. Hoffman was found guilty on three charges, and the other three on two charges each.
The four women had been discovered in the park by a federal wildlife officer in August, 2017, and arrested them all.
The charges included entering the park without a permit, and leaving behind water and cans of beans. The additional charge for Hoffman was for driving a car inside the park. The four women could face up up to a total of six months behind bars when they are sentenced.
“The Defendants did not get an access permit, they did not remain on the designated roads, and they left water, food, and crates in the Refuge. All of this, in addition to violating the law, erodes the national decision to maintain the Refuge in its pristine nature,” Velasco wrote in his three-page order.
He also accused the non-profit of “misleading” the women with regards to the penalties they could face.
No More Deaths is devastated by the ruling, concerned about just how far the country has fallen if an act of kindness that could save lives is now worthy of jail time.
“This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country,” said No More Deaths volunteer Catherine Gaffney in a statement. “If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”
The organization has estimated that approximately 155 migrants have died trying to cross the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.