There’s lots of people in this country who believe that border patrol was in the right in this case, that Warren broke the law and should not have aided undocumented immigrants, that people who break the law and try to sneak across the border deserve whatever fate that awaits them in the desert (an estimated 3,000 migrants have died trying to cross the desert on the US-Mexico border). But when it comes down to it, this is a case of religious liberty. No Mas Muertes is a faith-based humanitarian organization, which works “to end death and suffering in the Mexico–US borderlands through civil initiative: people of conscience working openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights.” The volunteers of No Mas Muertes are driven by their belief that it is inherently wrong to leave people to die in the desert simply because they were born on the wrong side of the border. Although not all volunteers belong to the Christian faith, Scott Warren does. He goes out into the desert and sets up water stations in areas where there have been a high number of deaths, he provides medical care to migrants he finds who will die if they do not receive aid, because his Christian faith teaches him that he must provide aid to people in need, even when the law says otherwise.
The Bible commands us repeatedly to welcome and care for the foreigner. Deuteronomy 10:19 says “you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” This command is repeated in Exodus 22:21, 23:9, and Leviticus 19:33-34. Leviticus 23:22 says to leave food for foreigners. Deuteronomy 24:17 and Malachi 3:5 demand justice for the foreigner. Matthew 25 teaches us to welcome the stranger and give water to the thirsty. The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 teaches us to have mercy on our neighbor even when our society or laws dictate that we should ignore their plight. Scott Warren and the other volunteers of No Mas Muertes remind us that we are called to care for the foreigner, whether or not they are “legal”. They remind us that God’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself trumps laws that try to dictate who deserves lifesaving aid.
No Mas Muertes has worked hard to prevent countless deaths in the desert of people whose only crime is trying to seek a better life. Their work is driven by their religious beliefs, but border patrol and the prosecutors in Scott Warren’s case want to take away their religious liberty and stop them from saving lives. No one deserves to die in the desert, especially not for the misdemeanor of crossing the border without a visa. As a Christian I support Scott Warren and No Mas Muertes in their life-saving work on the border. We must call on the government to protect the dignity of all human beings, regardless of which side of the border they were born on, and to respect the religious freedom of those who work to end the suffering of those seeking a better life.