Freedom Folks

Friday, March 23, 2007

Natural: Like A Well Planned, Well Funded Tsunami!

Source: LA Times
Our Lady Queen of Angels joins a national effort to shield illegal immigrants and press for changes in the law.

Construction crews at Our Lady Queen of Angels are putting the finishing touches on a controversial new addition to the historic downtown Los Angeles church: living quarters in which to harbor an immigrant family facing deportation.

The 188-year-old parish, also known as La Placita, is among the first churches in the nation to pledge participation in a new sanctuary movement expected to be launched in late April as a faith-based effort to help undocumented families and to press for immigration reform.

“Here, we’re taking our concerns about the nation’s broken immigration system to a new level,” Father Richard Estrada said this week as he stood in the church’s second-floor storage room, above the altar, that is being converted into housing.

“Families broken by broken laws, and churches broken by it all,” Estrada said. “You hear about it happening in churches across the city.”

Inspired by Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who has taken refuge at a Methodist church in Chicago since August to avoid deportation, leaders of the first sanctuary movement in 25 years are interviewing hundreds of prospective candidates for refuge and dozens of churches willing to accept the legal risks of taking them in.

Advocacy groups, including Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice-California, Interfaith Worker Justice and the New York Sanctuary Coalition, are asking each participating church, synagogue and mosque to provide refuge for one or more illegal immigrants.

To be eligible, an undocumented immigrant must be in deportation proceedings, have a good work record and have children who are U.S. citizens by birth. They must also agree to undergo training to overcome their fear of public exposure and articulate their cases at news conferences and public gatherings.

Church officials, citing immigration raids across the country that are breaking up families, say immigration law needs to be more humane. With Congress poised to restart debate on legislative reforms, they hope the sanctuary movement will focus attention on the issue.

“We’d like these families to represent the 12 million undocumented people in the United States,” said the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, executive director of Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice-California and a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

“We’re choosing them for their personal stories,” she said, “but we’re training them in how to respond to questions about their plights.
Training = coaching!

H/T immigration watchdog

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