Volunteers Found Guilty Of Encouraging Migrants

Four humanitarian aid volunteers have been found guilty by a federal judge of at least some of the charges filed against them for leaving food and water to be picked up by migrants, in a restricted wilderness area.

Members of No More Deaths Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick where are found guilty of two of the charges against them. While Natalie Hoffman was found guilty on all three charges she faced. 

The group were charged with entering a refuge without a permit and abandoning personal property. Harris was additionally charged with operating an unpermitted vehicle inside the refuge. 

“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,” said presiding U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco.

Velasco also called out the organization, No More Deaths, for not adequately informing the four of the potential consequences of their actions. As the suspects all believed they would face the mild penalty of a fine.

“No one in charge of No More Deaths ever informed them that their conduct could be prosecuted as a criminal offense nor did any of the Defendants make any independent inquiry into the legality or consequences of their activities,” Velasco said.

“The Court can only speculate as to what the Defendants’ decisions would have been had they known the actual risk of their undertaking,” he added in closing.

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