Sellz and Strauss Freed from Charges

No More Deaths reports that a judge in the 1st U.S. District Court dismissed charges against two humanitarian-aid volunteers last week, stemming from an incident that happened last summer -- and that could have landed the two in jail for years. Judge Raner C. Collins ruled that Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, both then 23 years old, had made reasonable efforts to ensure their actions fell within the law when they tried to transport three very ill undocumented migrants to a medical clinic.

The migrants suffered from heat-related illnesses and could not keep down water after several days trekking through the desert -- and would very likely have died without immediate treatment, something that calling the Border Patrol would have delayed or impeded entirely, according to what NMD volunteers told me in June. The men did not receive the full treatment, however, because Border Patrol arrested them and the two volunteers before they reached the clinic.

The arrests spurred the founding of the "Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime" movement within No More Deaths -- and even inspired a rollicking, old-school, folk song by local, Arizona singer Desert Rat. The incident has lead to greater cooperation between humanitarian groups and the Border Patrol -- a particularly welcome though obviously not effective-enough occurrence, considering that, "this year, more than 171 migrants have perished in Arizona," according to NMD.

The Arizona Star has more on the story -- and a whopping message board of comments.

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Blogger Larry James said...

Jeremy, thanks for your comments on the Grits for Breakfast blog!

4:25 PM, September 12, 2006  

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