Scott Daniel Warren, 35, with the group No More Deaths, faces a federal charge of harboring two people in the country illegally. His arrest last week came after Border Patrol agents conducted surveillance on a building where two immigrants were given food, water, beds and clean clothes, according to federal court records.
Group volunteer Caitlin Deighan stopped short of calling the arrest retaliation but said it looks suspicious to have charged Warren so close to the release of the videos.
“We see it as an escalation and criminalization of aid workers,” Deighan said Monday.
The Border Patrol didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
William Walker, an attorney for Warren, said his client’s actions were not criminal.
“This is a humanitarian aid worker trying to save lives,” Walker said.
No More Deaths last week gave news organizations videos taken between 2010 and 2017, mostly by cameras at its desert camp. In one clip, a Border Patrol agent kicked over five water jugs meant to supply immigrants. In another, an agent pours gallons of water on the ground.
In 2005, two group volunteers were arrested after they drove three immigrants from a desert location to a Tucson church to get medical attention from a doctor and nurse. The indictment was eventually dismissed by a federal judge.
No More Deaths is a coalition of religious organizations, human rights advocates and individuals who provide food, water and medical assistance to immigrants crossing the Arizona desert from Mexico.
Immigrants who sneak into the United States through that terrain face many dangers, including walking for several days in the scorching heat.
Thousands have died crossing the border since the mid-1990s, when heightened enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, pushed traffic into Arizona’s deserts. In recent years, south Texas has become the busiest corridor for illegal crossings and also the most deadly.