Immigrant help based on ‘beliefs,’ judge rules

An Arizona federal judge has reversed the convictions of four faith-based volunteers who were fined and put on probation for aiding migrants at the border, saying the activists were simply exercising their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The ruling in U.S. v. Hoffman, announced Feb. 3, overturned a lower court decision that found the activists guilty of breaking federal law by leaving out water and food for migrants crossing the U.S.–Mexico border in Arizona’s Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

Activists argued they were acting on their religious beliefs to save immigrant lives and their prosecution was a violation of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which bars the government from placing a “substantial burden” on the free exercise of religion. (RNS)