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2nd Trial For Humanitarian Aid Worker Underway In Tucson

In Tucson, the U.S. government is again prosecuting a humanitarian aid worker it says was harboring undocumented immigrants and trying to hide them from Border Patrol agents. 

The government’s new case against Scott Warren lies in whether two undocumented Central American men whom he provided food and shelter to actually needed help.

The 37-year old Warren is using the same argument he used when the last prosecution ended in a mistrial - that he was under no obligation to turn the two men in and that he had no intention of committing a crime.

Warren works with No More Deaths, a group that tries to help border crossers survive.

The Rev. John Fife founded the organization. 

"To give food and water and emergency medical care to people who show up at their door is not a crime," Fife said shortly before the trial began Tuesday morning. He himself was one of several people convicted during the Sanctuary Movement when religious organizations worked together to bring in Guatemalans and Salvadorans fleeing domestic wars at home.

On Tuesday, federal judge Raner Collins banned Warren and his defense team from mentioning President Donald Trump by name or of making any reference to the Trump administration during the trial. 

“I haven’t heard a single thing said of what relevance that has," said prosecutor Anna Wright. "This is a case of what happened between Jan. 14 and Jan. 18, 2018, when the defendant sheltered two illegal aliens. President Trump was not involved in that.” 

Warren's attorney, Greg Kuykendall, countered that this case only happened because Trump was elected to office. No More Deaths had operated along the border for more than a decade before the new prosecutions. "The single thing that's changed is their boss," he said, pointing to the prosecution table.

The judge sided with the U.S. government. 

“No politics should be allowed in this case. I’m not going to allow it," he ruled.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.