Bottled Water Left for Migrants Is NOT Litter
On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that human-rights activist can not be charged with littering for leaving bottles of water for migrants along trails in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge just southwest of Tucson.
Daniel Millis was charged under a section of law that makes it illegal to dispose of “garbage” in any wildlife refuge, said Judge Sidney Thomas, and that the term “garbage” in ambiguous enough that it may not include the water bottles and jugs. Though Thomas warns that it does not necessarily give Millis and others the legal right to continue putting out bottles without fear of future prosecution.
‘Millis likely could have been charged under a different regulatory section, such as abandonment of property or failure to obtain a special-use permit,’ Judge Thomas wrote. ‘However, that is not the question here.’
Millis conceded the point saying, ‘The federal government can always find a reason to go after us if they want to.’
A volunteer with No More Deaths, Millis admitted in 2008 to federal Fish and Wildlife officers that he drove around fellow volunteers leaving filled water bottles and jugs and picking up empties. The same admission was made at his trial after being arrested for littering, but Millis testified that leaving water out for migrants constitutes humanitarian aid, and ‘humanitarian aid is never a crime.’
Millis believes the government should focus on reforming its immigration policies rather than going after volunteers leaving the bottles.
During the six months he spent waiting for the appeals court to rule, 126 more bodies were found along the Southern Arizona border. ‘That’s 126 too many.’