Four religious workers acquitted on appeal for providing food and water for migrants in a United States Wildlife Refuge in the Arizona desert

The above link is the Order and Opinion of the Court reversing defendants convictions.

The four defendants in this case are religious workers The defendants entered a United States Wildlife Refuge in Arizona near the Mexican border and left supplies of food and water for migrants to find. They were arrested and convicted of misdemeanor charges of trespassing, leaving property in the refuge and one defendant was charged with an additional count of operating a vehicle on a restricted road. The defendants were tried by a bench trial before a United States Magistrate Judge, who found them guilty of all charges.

Because this is a misdemeanor case, initial appeal is to a single United States District Judge, rather than to the 9th Circuit. Accordingly, United States District Judge Rosemary Marquez heard the appeal. On January 31, 2020, she reversed the judgement of the Magistrate Judge and acquitted the defendants on all charges. Additionally she ordered the government to remit all fines paid back to the defendants, ordered their probation terminated and lifted the order barring them from trespassing on the Wildlife Refuge. The defendants had not been sentenced to any jail time.

Judge Marquez invoked the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in overturning the defendants convictions. The defendants had raised the RFRA at trial as a defense, but the Magistrate Judge gave it short shrift. They then raised it, successfully, on appeal.

The RFRA defense can be raised affirmatively. It is the burden of the defendants to 1. prove that the law burdens their sincerely held religious beliefs and 2. that the law is not the least restrictive means for the government to accomplish its purpose. Judge Marquez found that the defendants successfully proved both standards.

I agree with the judgement of the court, given the RFRA statute as written.

Also, Judge Marquez was clearly put off with the government’s logic that if defendants were not allowed to place food and water, more migrants would die and accordingly other migrants would be dissuaded from attempting entry. She specifically rejected that argument as gruesome logic.

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That was stupid arresting them.

We have crooked bad cops/FBI/CIA etc and they go after people with good intentions?

There was no malicious intentions on defendants part IMO.


Nothing wrong with leaving food out for people, even if they are criminals. Law breakers gotta eat too. lol

Bad bust. Good decision.

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Build the wall,heavily patrol it like tax payers have already paid for, for decades…and there will not be a need for the good deeds of these people. This problem they were attempting to resolve is solved. Now…see just how easy this really is?

Find it difficult to believe the government argued allowing them to put out food and water would result in fewer migrant deaths and so encourage more of them to try. Why would any competent legal team use that argument instead of allowing them to leave out food and water acts as a lure so that more migrants would try and die in the attempt.

They are encouraging human trafficking by giving aid to human traffickers.

End the suffering and build the wall!

These Obama judges don’t care about the suffering caused by human trafficking.

These people are scum. They are aiding and abetting murderers and rapists. Which makes them murderers and rapists.

I could say that you are wrong they were giving aid and comfort to enemy combatants and refugees.

But, I will be completely honest Conan. You hit the nail on the head by stating the obvious. Allowing fellow human beings to die in the dessert is morally wrong. Doing something to help give them a chance to survive is morally upstanding and should not be punished.

Leaving a cache of food and water isn’t the same as providing food and water directly to people in need.

These supplies could help anyone.

We have more important things to pursue.


Are they morally right if people hear about the food and water and decide that with it in place they can make the journey only to die in the attempt?

Build the wall.

People are going to make the attempt one way or another aren’t they. At least they are doing something to try to keep people from dying. You can’t keep people from making bad decisions…you can only try to provide some sort of salvation when that decision goes bad. Agree?

Like I said, it’s possible some people are encouraged to give it a try when they hear about things like this. As for the people doing it, why not spend your time and effort to aid such people in their home countries instead? When I see a poor person suffering in a foreign country I don’t think, I can help them by getting them into my country illegally, I think, what can I do to help them and all the other people like them make their country a better place to live. Most of the people making the trip didn’t suddenly become in need of help when they started their trip. If someone claims to care about their well being, why are they waiting to help them until after they have taken on even more risk and debt to make it?

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My first instinct is you can’t leave people to die or starve in the desert.
Then logic sets in and says if stories get out about finding food and drink in the desert, it could lure more people to their deaths than save.
Hard for me to judge.

Bad decision. When Trump builds moats filled with alligators those migrants will finally learn their lesson.

That article says a lot about the standards of NYTs jounalists as well as “The Economist”. Is a verifiable source even a thing any more?

“The president frequently boasts that his Mexican border wall will be beautiful. “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration”, a new book by two journalists from the New York Times, suggests it will be menacing, too. The authors claim that Mr Trump asked his advisers about including a moat, infested with snakes or alligators. Aides have reportedly looked into the cost of such a deterrent. Mr Trump denies having said any of this. But to work out the expense to American taxpayers (or Mexican ones, since they are meant to be paying), The Economist totted up the structural and zoological requirements of the plan.”

Dude do you seriously think that Trump didn’t talk about the idea of crocodile moats with his aides?

Do you remember Greenland? Alabama? Any of his thousands of retweets?