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  1. #11
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion

    Published: 07.13.2005

    2 immigrant aid workers say fellow detainees lived in filth
    By Stephanie Innes

    The experience of being arrested and held in what they say were inhumane conditions while in federal custody has strengthened the resolve of two local immigrant aid workers, who spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday.

    Daniel Strauss and Shanti Sellz, both 23, were released from custody Monday, two days after they were arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol when an agent stopped their vehicle and found three illegal entrants inside. The pair said they were taking the entrants to receive medical care. Both face federal charges for transporting illegal entrants.

    "Groups like ours absolutely have to stay out there and stay strong," Sellz said in an interview Tuesday evening. "The U.S. Border Patrol is not humanitarian. It does not have a humanitarian agenda, policy or protocol. This experience has absolutely validated our commitment to what we're doing."

    The U.S. Border Patrol says the pair should not have transported illegal entrants and denies volunteers' accusations of mistreatment in their facilities.

    The two volunteers, in their second summer of working with the Tucson-based No More Deaths movement, were scheduled to appear in federal court at 10:30 a.m. today.

    Immediately after their arrest, Sellz said, the pair spent hours in a processing station hungry and cold. While she was at the Border Patrol's detention facility at 1970 W. Ajo Way, Sellz said people were sharing filthy blankets in cold cells, and she could not get a toothbrush or toothpaste. She said detainees who had been walking for days in the hot desert were crammed into small facilities without the opportunity to shower.

    "This is just going to strengthen everyone's resolve. The Border Patrol is not in the business of saving lives," said Strauss, who says he was in a cell with no toilet paper and that some of the detainees were using blankets as a substitute.

    Sellz and Strauss are part of an immigrant aid group that gives food, water and medical assistance to people who illegally cross the border on foot from Mexico to the United States. The group says their work is necessary at a time when illegal entrants continue to perish in the desert while making the trek.

    The pair are being represented by Tucson attorneys Jeff Rogers and William Walker, who say their clients did nothing illegal in seeking medical treatment for the three migrants, whom they described as suffering from serious, heat-related illness. The Border Patrol has described the ailments as relatively minor.

    Gustavo Soto, a spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, said detainees are treated humanely and regularly given food, water and other amenities. He said Strauss and Sellz were offered food and did not take it.

    "We made every effort to make sure, as with other detainees, that they received the necessary amenities," Soto said. "We believe they are entitled to necessary services. There are showers."

    The Border Patrol's detention facility at 1970 W. Ajo Way has no showers.
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  2. #12
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    No showers? No toilet paper? No toothbrushes?

    Did they take a shower in the desert?

    Did they use up all their toilet paper in the desert?

    Did they have a toothbrush in the desert?

    GET THIS--this is no joy ride. This isn't the Motel 6. This isn't the Ritz.

    This is the United States trying to enforce its laws. You want a shower? Stay in Mexico. You want toilet paper? Stay in Mexico. You want a toothbrush? Stay in Mexico.

    You want a better life than being crammed in with a bunch of dirty people with no toilet paper or toothbrush?

    Stay in Mexico.

    You are not welcome in the United States.

    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
    Save America, Deport Congress! - Judy

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  3. #13
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion
    Updated article.

    2 feel law backward on aiding migrants

    Jul. 18, 2005 12:00 AM

    Daniel Strauss and Shanti Sellz were a half-hour away from their preliminary hearing on federal smuggling charges, when their attorneys told them the government was dangling a deal. If the pair admitted guilt and agreed to behave themselves, prosecutors would drop the case. It was a sweet deal, save for one detail: the 23-year-olds don't think they did anything wrong by giving three severely dehydrated border crossers a ride to a doctor.

    "I will in no way admit guilt. I do not, in no way, think what we're doing is wrong," Sellz said, standing outside the Evo A. DeConcini Courthouse in Tucson. It was immediately following the hearing, and after forcefully stating her defiance, she started looking around for her attorney. "I don't know whether I was supposed to say that."

    Strauss and Sellz plan to announce their decision today in Tucson, their lawyers said. Accepting the deal means avoiding federal felony charges of transporting undocumented immigrants and obstructing justice, convictions that can come with five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Fighting means finding out whether the actions they deem right in their hearts are right under the law.

    Sellz and Strauss work with No More Deaths, a Tucson-based organization that asks volunteers to spend the summer camped out in the infernal Sonoran Desert. They hike along popular illegal immigration routes looking for people in distress. They give out water and food. Sometimes they'll tend to blistered feet. Anyone in medical need gets driven to a hospital or the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, where they are tended to by a doctor friendly to the cause.

    It's sort of like an answer to the Minutemen, the armed group that also hunts for migrants in the desert. Both groups believe the government's border policy has failed and that private citizens must take action. Except instead of guns, the No More Deaths volunteers carry water bottles and cans of tuna. And while the Minutemen patrolled Arizona's desert for a month in the spring, No More Deaths is camped out throughout the summer.

    At around noon on July 9, a group of migrants stumbled into the group's camp. Six only needed water and food. But three of them had drunk water from a cattle tank and were nauseated, said Helen Lundgren, a nurse who works with No More Deaths. One was vomiting and couldn't hold down water, Lundgren said. She and two doctors were called by the volunteers who described the men's symptoms to them.

    Strauss and Sellz put the three men in their car, which had a magnetic No More Deaths sign on the door, and drove north toward Tucson. Twenty miles away from the city, they were pulled over by a Border Patrol agent. He determined the three border crossers, who by now had received water, food and air-conditioning, didn't need emergency care. And the two do-gooders seemed more like amateur smugglers.

    The agent arrested everyone and took the group to the Tucson station for processing.

    Strauss grew up in New York City. His interest in border issues was piqued by a class at Colorado College, a private liberal-arts college in Colorado Springs, Colo. The class, Globalization and Immigration on the U.S. Mexican Border, included a 10-day trip to Tucson, where students met with Border Patrol agents and migrants waiting to cross. They also surveyed popular crossing routes.

    "We were so moved by the situation and just so shocked and outraged at what was going on," Strauss said. Eight members of the class volunteered at No More Deaths last summer. Strauss returned this year.

    Sellz was born in Iowa and spent a lot of time studying and living in Latin America. She thought taking a nanny job in the border town of Bisbee would give her that cross-cultural vibe she craved. When she arrived in January 2004, she didn't expect to see migrants dashing through town clutching water bottles, or arroyos filled with trash. "I started putting the pieces together," she said, and started volunteering for organizations that aided the crossers.

    Last summer, that meant sitting in a No More Deaths camp. "You don't even comprehend it until you're here," she said of the summertime conditions out in the desert. Her most vivid memory from that first summer was coming across a mother and father and their 3-year-old girl.

    "Her parents were giving her all the food and water they had, but she was in real bad shape," Sellz said. "She was barely conscious, laying on her father's shoulder.

    "Those images," Sellz said. "To me, they're images of a war."

    The Border Patrol, in response to the growing number of deaths in the Arizona desert, has run humanitarian patrols for the past several years. They've rescued thousands and say anyone coming across a migrant in distress should call them. The federal law against transporting an "alien within the United States . . . in furtherance of such violation of law" makes no mention of medical emergencies.

    But Strauss feels it should be illegal to not help someone in need of water. "I'm now more sure than ever that this cause is a just cause," he said, "and until no more migrants are innocently dying in the desert, then the work needs to continue."

    His feelings were bolstered by what he felt was inhumane treatment while he was in Border Patrol custody. At the initial processing center, the two said they were not offered anything to eat other than cheese crackers for at least six hours. After being moved to a holding facility, they said they shivered under dirty blankets in tiny, cold cells. "This is the place where our border patrol brings people?" Strauss said. "What kind of treatment is this for people? That's insane." Sellz said women she was with had been held for days, with no shower and no hygiene products. "Women were scrubbing their teeth with toilet paper," Sellz said.

    Gustavo Soto, a spokesman for the Tucson sector of the Border Patrol, said records indicated Strauss and Sellz refused food at the processing center. Of their complaints about general conditions, he said, "It's jail."

    Two days after their arrest, the two had their initial appearance in federal court. Their names stuck out on a docket alongside names like Garcia-Miranda and Sandoval-Hernandez. At that first hearing, government attorneys argued the two should be held in jail and laid out some of the details of the case. The magistrate decided the pair could be released until their preliminary hearing.

    Strauss was led out of court and into a holding cell with his fellow male prisoners. He knew he was probably the only one in the group of 30 who would be released that day. "In a way I felt bad because they didn't have the same legal support I had," he said.

    He was pulled out of line and a guard took the shackles off him. As he was freed, the other men broke into a round of applause. "You know, pats on the back and 'way to go' " Strauss said, his lips quivering and voice cracking as he recalled the story. "That kind of support was just amazing."

    The two both say they want to be back out in the desert, looking for migrants to save. Even if they take a plea deal that includes a promise not to re-offend. They didn't expect the threat of prison when they signed on with No More Deaths, but their bigger fear is that the government could be halting the work of rescue groups in the brutal desert.

    "If we were to be convicted of this and they were to shut down humanitarian efforts, such as this one, the only outcome would be that more people would die," Strauss said. "Is that what is trying to be accomplished by this?"
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  4. #14
    JackSmith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    if the car flips over and the 3 die and the driver is a COYOTE than the government throws the book at the we have essentially the same thing and they get off..the do gooders.......this is how public opinion has to change....

  5. #15
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion
    I say throw the book at them for their arrogance!

    No More Deaths activists to reject plea deal
    Two seek trial in border-crosser transport case

    By Michael Marizco

    Saying that saving lives is nothing to feel guilty about, the two border activists facing smuggling-based charges said they will defend their actions in trial and take on the United States.

    With their attorneys sitting next to them, No More Deaths volunteers Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, both 23, said they would reject a plea offer from the U.S. Attorney's Office to drop the felony transporting charge and go to trial instead. A preliminary hearing in U.S. District Court is scheduled for this afternoon.

    "Shanti and I are not accepting this plea," Strauss said.

    Sellz's lawyer, William Walker, said the two rejected the offer because they would be able to successfully show in court that immigration law does not say transporting a border crosser is illegal, only that helping further an illegal entry is illegal. They were unable to provide specific cases they would cite as precedent when asked Thursday.

    Sellz and Strauss were arrested on July 9 with three illegal entrants in their truck. They were driving them to Southside Presbyterian Church and said the men were vomiting and had bloody diarrhea.

    In the criminal complaint against them, a Border Patrol agent stated the three illegal entrants were taken to the No More Deaths camp near Arivaca then offered a ride to a church or hospital in Tucson. The agent said they passed two Border Patrol vehicles before they were pulled over.

    Details of the actual plea offer are still unknown. The U.S. Attorney's Office will make statements only in court, said spokeswoman Sandy Raynor. No More Deaths spokesman Luke Roske said the organization did not have a copy of the plea offer, and he had not seen it.

    Since the arrests, both sides have accused the other of giving wrong information. That, coupled with what's sure to be a high-profile trial, promises to make this case a rancorous debate on illegal immigration, experts say.

    On Thursday, Walker said that on at least 50 occasions in the past four years, the Border Patrol knew illegal entrants had been brought to the Southside church for medical help and allowed that to happen.

    Jose Garza, Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman, said that was not true. Last week, the Tucson Sector said the three illegal entrants being transported were not ill and refused medical aid once in custody.

    In a signed affidavit, the only illegal entrant held as a material witness, Emil Hidalgo Solis, said he was vomiting, had blood in his diarrhea and couldn't go on. He wrote that an agent told him he was fine. The affidavit was signed by Margo Cowan, an activist with No More Deaths.

    Prosecution, if it comes, may be part of an effort to teach other would-be helpers a lesson, said Mike Albon, spokesman for the Border Patrol union Local 2544.

    The Border Patrol often arrests people for smuggling small groups, but most arrests in low-end cases are not worth the expense of prosecuting, he said.

    "I think people are picked up all the time along (Arizona) 286. Sometimes ranchers feel sorry for them," Albon said. Those cases usually aren't worth the bother, he said. "But they probably don't want a bunch of people out in the desert picking people up," he added.

    A trial will offer a chance for the United States to set ground rules for what can and can't be done in helping illegal entrants, said Jean Rosenbluth, a law professor at the University of Southern California and a federal prosecutor until 2002.

    "They may be intending to use the opportunity to tell private citizens, 'You don't get to decide when to help an illegal alien,' " Rosenbluth said.

    Samaritans Say They Haven't Crossed a Line at the Border
    Two volunteers drove migrants to a hospital -- and then found themselves behind bars.

    By Richard Marosi
    Times Staff Writer

    July 22, 2005

    ARIVACA, Ariz. â€
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