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¡No Se Deje!
Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss went to Arizona’s desert to provide water, food and medical assistance to immigrants in need. Both are members of “Samaritans” and of the “No More deaths” Organization. These organizations are dedicated to reducing the number of tragic deaths of immigrants at the border due to a lack of basic resources. Sellz and Strauss found five immigrants and determined that two of them were in serious condition suffering from dehydration. Their doctors gave instructions to immediately take the immigrants to the hospital.
On their way to the hospital, United States Immigration and Naturalization Service officials arrested Sellz and Strauss. The Attorney General filed criminal charges against them for their activities in assisting immigrants. Sellz and Strauss pled “not guilty”. Strauss openly stated “we have not committed any crime”.
Federal judge Raner Collins decided the criminal case in favor of the defendants. The charges were completely dismissed and Sellz and Strauss were released, confident that they can legally continue their generous work without legal restrictions. The judge ruled that the group “Samaritans” is in fact a humanitarian organization, confirming the legal argument of attorney Bill Walker who joined Stanley Feldman to defend the aid volunteers pro bono.
This federal judgment also indicates that “No More Deaths” is not dedicated to helping immigrants enter the country illegally. This is extremely important because many people who wish to help immigrants in need decline to do so fearing that it is against the law. Attorney Walker said “this legal decision is a huge victory for everyone wanting to stop unnecessary deaths in the desert.” Samaritans group founder, Reverend John Fife, stated that the judge’s decision confirmed the group’s position that “providing humanitarian aid is never against the law”. Now, everyone can do what their hearts feel and provide humanitarian assistance without fear to legal consequences or punishments.
It should be noted that neither, federal judge Raner Collins, defense Counsels Bill Walker and Stanley Feldman, nor activists Sellz and Strauss are Latinos. Reverend John Fife, Samaritans group founder is not Latino either. There is a growing social, political, and humanitarian movement to protect immigrants. This movement promotes immigration amnesty, driver licenses, education and health care for all human beings regardless of their immigration status. Many people involved in this movement are not Latinos. It is not about nationalism, it is about doing what is right and proper regarding humanitarian aid.
The Sellz and Strauss case is important because, as a legal principle, it establishes that saving the lives of those who have entered the country undocumented or uninspected is still allowed. It is sad indeed, that even today in the United States, it was necessary to litigate in a criminal court for more than a year to know this. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.