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Arizona volunteers sentenced for trespassing, leaving migrants goods

(Google Maps photo)

PHOENIX — A federal judge sentenced four humanitarian aid volunteers with No More Deaths to probation for trespassing on a wildlife refuge in southwestern Arizona to help migrants.

Zaachila Orozco-McCormick, Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, and Madeline Huse were sentenced to 15 months of unsupervised probation.

They were also fined $250 each, and banned from the refuge for the duration of their probation.

“The border crisis in this country is a matter of life and death. History will not favor those on the wrong side of it,” Huse said in a statement. “Our border policy continues to push people into remote and dangerous parts of the desert.”

The women were convicted in January for entering the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge near Yuma without a permit and abandoning personal property. Hoffman was also convicted of operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers found the women trespassing on the wildlife refuge in August 2017, and they all admitted to entering the refuge without a permit and leaving a stash of water and canned food at Charlie Bell Well.

In a statement, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange commended the officers’ commitment to “preserving the lands Congress has designated as national wildlife refuges.”

The sentencing comes after four other No More Deaths volunteers — Caitlin Deighan, Rebecca Richeimer, Zoe Anderson, and Logan Hollarsmith — on Feb. 21 agreed to pay a fine of $250 each and receive civil infractions in exchange for criminal charges being dropped.

Another volunteer with the group, Scott Warren, is facing misdemeanor charges for his work on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, as well as three federal felony charges for other humanitarian aid work. Both trials are scheduled for May 2019.

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