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Why is the US cracking down on aid workers at the border? | The Stream

Scott Warren is dedicated to helping people making the gruelling trek across the US-Mexico border. But he now faces criminal charges – and possibly years in prison – for providing that often life-saving aid.

Warren is a volunteer with charity No More Deaths, which routinely helps migrants crossing the border. He was arrested and charged last year with two counts of harbouring and one count of conspiracy after giving food, water and shelter to two undocumented migrants. Warren is currently on trial and, if convicted, he could serve up to 20 years in prison. In a separate case, Teresa Todd was stopped by police while giving three young El Salvadorans a ride in her car. She is now the subject of an ongoing investigation. Both cases, activists say, highlight a growing trend.

Although aid workers have faced similar issues under previous US governments, rights groups say President Donald Trump’s crackdown on those helping migrants is unprecedented. The number of people federally charged with smuggling and harbouring grew by almost a third from 2015-2018, with the biggest increase coming in 2018.

The crackdown is not only happening on the US side of the border. On June 5, Mexican authorities arrested Irineo Mujica and Cristobal Sanchez. Both work with Pueblo Sin Fronteras, an organisation that helps migrant caravans. Mujica is also accused of being a co-conspirator in the Warren case.

As the United Nations and rights group Amnesty International urge US authorities to stop criminalising those providing aid to migrants, The Stream will look at the situation on both sides of the border and ask how aid workers are navigating an increasingly challenging environment. Join the conversation.

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