Frontier justice

2006-07-14

in Law, Politics, Rants

In other depressing news, there are apparently two Americans: Daniel Strauss and Shanti Sellz, who are being charged for transporting three illegal migrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border to a hospital, when they were dying of thirst. They face up to 15 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Legally, the case seems quite clear cut. The defence of necessity allows you to break the law when doing so serves some over-riding purpose. Someone with a suspended license can drive their critically injured child to the hospital, then get off the charge of violating the suspension by claiming that is was necessary to avert a far greater evil. Preventing three people from dying in the desert obviously overrides questions about the legality of assisting those attempting to migrate illegally.

What is most ironic is that the people prosecuting this case would almost certainly defend themselves as Christians – given that the prosecution can only be motivated by a desire for political point-scoring, and not being religious in America is politically suicidal. For would not Jesus himself have argued that if you come across a man dying of thirst in the desert, it is your Christian duty to report him to the proper authorities?

It amazes me that neighbouring democratic states with an increasing number of economic and institutional connections can nonetheless completely fail to accord the most basic ethic of due consideration to each other’s citizens. The prosecutors should be ashamed of themselves, and these charges should be summarily dismissed.

PS. Amnesty International has a campaign on this.
It is also being discussed on MetaFilter.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

B July 14, 2006 at 11:38 pm

Strauss and Sellz didn’t just happen to run into some dying Mexicans. They were part of a group established to help them illegally cross the border (even your Amnesty link says so). Surely that enters into the equation?

R.K. July 15, 2006 at 1:23 am

“Prosecutors say the illegal entrants were not seriously ill. But Sellz and Strauss say they contacted a nurse and a doctor before transporting the men and that they were following No More Deaths protocol, which calls for medically evacuating illegal entrants to Tucson if they are seriously ill. Prosecutors say the protocol was never approved by federal officials and that Border Patrol officials had warned religious leaders in April that they’d risk arrest if they transported migrants.”

From the Arizona Daily Star

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