Humanitarian Aid Never a Crime

Russell Testa In the Headlines

At last week’s Provincial Council meeting, the Council added Holy Name Province’s name to those in support of the “Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime” campaign being sponsored by the organization No More Deaths.

The campaign is a response to the arrest and potential trial of Daniel Strauss and Shanti Sellz, who are charged with the crimes of transporting illegal aliens and conspiring to do so. The “crime” committed by the two volunteers was to medically evacuate three undocumented persons from the Arizona desert on the advice of a physician, nurse and lawyer and bring them to a facility where they could get medical attention. This action saved three lives.

The “crime” that Daniel Strauss and Shanti Sellz committed was an act of humanitarian assistance. It is similar to what many of our own Franciscan ministries do when we offer food, shelter or medical assistance without regard to citizenship status. It is the same “crime” that the legislation being considered by U.S. Congress will widen and make it easier to charge our ministries. This legislation in the U.S. Congress is the one that Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles spoke out against on Ash Wednesday.

By signing the Province onto this campaign, we are acting as the “preemptive peacemakers” that the resolution passed at Chapter 2005 calls us to be.

The southern border of the United States is a violent place. The locations where many people attempt to cross are in the middle of deserts where more than 2,600 people have died since 1995; 279 died last year in Arizona alone. When we speak out and act for a more humane border policy and just immigration reform, we are taking a stand for peace. A stand that builds bridges, not walls, so that human dignity is given the respect it deserves.

Please share this action taken by the Provincial Council with others; there is an organizing kit for the Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime campaign at the link below. If you are involved in other efforts to assist immigrants or reform the broken U.S. immigration policies, please let our JPIC Animator, Russ Testa, know at The JPIC Office is working with the JPIC Directorate to develop a coordinated response to immigration reform in Holy Name Province.

Finally, if you have not contacted your Senators in Washington to influence U.S. immigration reform, please do so now (and get others to join you). The U.S. Bishops’ site to write an e-mail letter to your Senators is below.