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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Aid workers’ acquittal fair, students say”

    UA students said they support the recent exoneration of two humanitarian aid workers because lives were saved, regardless of the politics surrounding the issue.

    Charlton Swearingen, a marketing senior, said the decision was both good and bad.

    “”I think it’s fine they didn’t get charged,”” Swearingen said. “”It isn’t good because they were immigrating illegally to the U.S., but it’s good that the workers were trying to help.””

    On July 9, 2005, Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss were arrested while evacuating three severely dehydrated migrants from the Arizona desert to a Tucson clinic, despite the fact that they were following the guidelines previously set by the U.S. Border Patrol, according to The Associated Press.

    The two volunteer workers, who were with the Tucson-based humanitarian group No More Deaths, found the immigrants north of the U.S.-Mexico border dehydrated and unable to hold down water. Volunteer doctors in the field told Sellz and Strauss the immigrants needed more care.

    After the arrest, the case drew national attention and thousands of supporters spoke out against the arrest under the label “”humanitarian aid is never a crime.””

    Last week, U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins dismissed all charges, stating Sellz and Strauss “”had made reasonable efforts to ensure that their actions were not in violation of the law, and that further prosecution would violate the defendant’s (sic) due to process rights,”” according to a No More Deaths news release.

    If people are really dying or need help, the way the law is written now doesn’t show the way in which humanitarian aid is allowed. It doesn’t make it clear
    – Raquel Rubio Goldsmith, Mexican-American studies lecturer ASUA president

    Raquel Rubio Goldsmith, a lecturer in Mexican-American studies, said she is happy with the ruling, but the decision does not help solve the actual problem.

    “”We’re happy for the two people, but the decision was made as a procedural decision,”” Goldsmith said. “”They thought they had a protocol in place. The border patrol never got back to them. I think that it’s important that there is a ruling made on the vagueness of the law.””

    Goldsmith also said the laws in place don’t specify what is allowed in terms of aid work.

    “”If people are really dying or need help, the way the law is written now doesn’t show the way in which humanitarian aid is allowed. It doesn’t make it clear,”” Goldsmith said.

    Goldsmith added the issue is dropped in terms of the aid workers, but there is a greater problem to deal with at hand.

    Migrant deaths along the Arizona/Mexico border
  • October 2005 to August 2006
  • 171
  • October 2004 to September 2005
  • 279
  • October 2003 to September 2004
  • 233

    “”I think efforts will be brought about to reform immigration legislation,”” Goldsmith said. “”It doesn’t look as if the Republicans want to bring up the issue before the election.””

    Catherine Rodriguez, director of Derechos Humanos, said she was happy the judge recognized the work that the volunteers were doing, but the current system needs to be looked at.

    “”Saving lives is the only goal of these groups, and the community at large needs to recognize this. Whatever you might feel about the border, these three were in severe need of help; at least one of them was vomiting blood,”” Rodriguez said. “”We are calling for a reanalysis of these policies and an implementation of change.””

    Luke James Frawley, a finance senior, said that he is in favor of border laws but appreciates the position the judge was in.

    “”I feel that the judge is clearly an intelligent individual because if he kept the charges, then down the line people won’t help people because they are afraid they might get in trouble,”” Frawley said. “”I consider it a leak in our economy to let (immigrants) in, though. A lot of them don’t pay taxes and don’t have car insurance.””

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