Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime? The Politics of Immigration Enforcement and the Provision of Sanctuary
Journal Title Abbreviation
Syracuse Law Rev.
In September 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the federal criminal conviction of humanitarian Daniel Millis for placing water for migrants crossing the United StatesMexico border in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.1 In 2008 Mr. Millis, an activist with the Sierra Club and the Tucson faith-based organization No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes,2 had been found guilty of “Disposal of Waste” pursuant to 50 C.F.R. § 27.94(a), in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.3 No More Deaths, along with other faith-based organizations in Southern Arizona,4 have adopted the slogan “Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime” in support of their mission to leave water for migrants crossing the desert near the United States-Mexico border.5 Although the district court rejected Mr. Millis’ defense that “leaving full jugs of life-sustaining water for human consumption does not constitute littering,6 two judges on the threejudge panel of the Ninth Circuit that heard Mr. Millis’ case found that the term “garbage” in the regulation under which Mr. Millis was prosecuted is ambiguous, and vacated his conviction on those grounds. 7 The Ninth Circuit’s ruling in United States v. Millis was lauded by immigrants’ rights groups, border activists, humanitarian and faith groups as a victory for Good Samaritans and peaceful protestors of federal immigration policy.8 This Article argues that the unprecedented increase in the enforcement of immigration law—on both the border and the interior— and the politics surrounding comprehensive immigration reform has given rise to a renewed need for the provision of sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, and surveys the different forms of action that can constitute sanctuary,
63 Syracuse Law Review 71 (2012)