This week, a federal jury in Arizona acquitted human rights activist Scott Warren on charges of harboring undocumented migrants. Warren faced up to 20 years in prison for providing food, water, and shelter to two men from Central America who were traveling through the Sonoran desert. It’s a victory for activists across the country in a case that has come to define the stakes of humanitarian aid.

Warren was arrested by Border Patrol agents last year at an outpost maintained by No More Deaths, a faith-based humanitarian nonprofit organization providing basic necessities to migrants passing through the blazing desert that stretches across the Southwestern United States. That morning the organization released a report accusing U.S. Border Patrol of interfering with their aid efforts. Over a 46 month period, No More Deaths members tracked their humanitarian aid drop sites, and found that Border Patrol agents vandalized water left for migrants 415 times, or twice a week on average. They released footage of Border Patrol agents appearing to kick over water jugs and laughing, which quickly went viral, garnering millions of views within days. Border Patrol officials denied charges of retaliation: “We’re protecting immigration laws in the area, and there was a situation in which we needed to do the arrest because there were some illegal individuals in that area,” Carlos Diaz, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told The Washington Post. The No More Deaths report painted a damning picture of the agency, indicating a pattern of cruelty against undocumented migrants. As one migrant said in the report, “I needed water, some of the other people in the group needed water, but we found them destroyed. [I felt] helplessness, rage. They [the U.S. Border Patrol] must hate us. It’s their work to capture us, but we are humans. And they don’t treat us like humans. It’s hate is what it is. They break the bottles out of hate.”

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