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Arizona judge dismisses case against humanitarians aiding illegal immigrants

[JURIST] A US district judge in Tucson Friday dismissed a controversial case against two humanitarians arrested in July 2005 for aiding illegal immigrants they found in need of emergency medical attention in the Arizona desert. At the time of their arrests, Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss were volunteering for No More Deaths [advocacy website; press release], a group that works to reduce the number of migrant deaths [Arizona Daily Star database] in the desert. The volunteers were stopped by US Border Patrol [official website] officers while attempting to transport three sick migrants to a clinic in Tucson.

Sellz and Strauss said they were following a protocol for transporting undocumented immigrants [JURIST news archive] approved by the Border Patrol when they were arrested. The protocol involves checking with a lawyer and a doctor before transporting migrants; the organization, however, is working on a new protocol that would require volunteers to call 911 or Border Patrol when encountering migrants with medical emergencies. The decision by Judge Raner C. Collins to dismiss the case is a big win for the immigrant-aid movement near the US-Mexico border, which has adopted the slogan "Humanitarian aid is never a crime" [Amnesty International backgrounder]. The Tucson Citizen has more.

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