Skip to comments.California congregation shelters mother facing deportation (gag alert)
Posted on 06/11/2007 3:03:36 PM PDT by Baladas
One day after Congress scuttled immigration reform, an Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles congregation welcomed into sanctuary a nursing mother facing deportation.
On June 8, Liliana Sanctuario, 28, and her two-month-old son, Pablo, began living at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach, California, to avoid federal deportation to Mexico, and to help raise public awareness about the need for effective immigration reform, according to the Rev. Julie Wakelee-Lynch.
"This is not hiding, this is public hospitality," said Wakelee-Lynch, St. Luke's associate rector. "Her three children and her husband are U.S. citizens, all are legal residents, which is why deportation won't work for Liliana," whose actual last name was withheld for her protection.
"I am here because I don't want to leave my husband and children," Liliana, speaking tearfully through an interpreter, told an interfaith gathering of Muslim, Christian and Jewish clergy and New Sanctuary Movement supporters.
"I am here because I want to work for justice, because millions of people across the country are in the same situation. They have children and a family and are working very hard and don't understand why this would happen to them," she said.
The Rev. Alexia Salvatierra of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, a leader in the New Sanctuary Movement, said that "families are being broken by a broken immigration system."
"Under current policies, detention and deportation are ripping apart parents from children, husbands from wives and sisters from brothers," she said. "Through our sanctuaries, we can help change the laws to create policies that are effective and humane."
'The law is breaking us': a plea for reform With the collapse of immigration reform, Christina, whose son Juan sought sanctuary in another Los Angeles area church, on June 8 called upon President George Bush and lawmakers to enact just laws that keep families together.
Juan sought refuge in the United States after his father was kidnapped during the conflict in Guatemala. He runs a successful gardening business and is the father of two children who are U.S. citizens. His mother, who also arrived as a refugee, is a U.S. citizen. But because he lacked effective legal support, he faces an order of deportation, she said.
He has received sanctuary in St. Paul's Lutheran Church, and legal advocacy and pastoral support through a cluster of other congregations.
"People are saying we are breaking the law, but the law is breaking us," Christina told the gathering, through an interpreter. "We are asking for a just law. We are asking for the good of these children, that the president will push for such a law.
"We want you to understand that it's not easy to live in this situation. Taking care of my grandchildren while my son is in sanctuary is not easy. The children want their father at home."
Before Liliana moved to St. Luke's, she had lived briefly in the home of Griselda and the Rev. Manuel Valencia, a deacon at St. Rita's Catholic Church in Sierra Madre.
"We were in fear of being arrested on federal charges of harboring a fugitive," Valencia said. He said Liliana's other children, Susi, 4, and Gerardo Jr., 7, are living with their grandparents while their father works two jobs to try to make ends meet.
"This family is already very much suffering," Valencia said. "They are already separated. The hope is that, by providing the facts to the public of what happens to families under these circumstances, people might become more interested in helping."
Activists are hoping to secure a humanitarian stay of deportation for Liliana.
A group of Episcopalians recently called on the Episcopal Church to undertake more vigorous and church-wide advocacy on behalf of at-risk migrants.
The group, convened by Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), met May 14-15 at St. Paul's Cathedral Center in Los Angeles to discuss the current crisis facing undocumented immigrants as raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) escalate in various parts of the country.
A spokesperson for ICE declined to say if agents would attempt to arrest others who take sanctuary in churches, but added that agents have the authority to arrest anyone violating immigration law.
"This situation is an illustration of the failure of our immigration system to be humane and acknowledge the principles of family unity which are so fundamental to our society and which our newly formed network of Episcopal parishes and immigrant rights advocates is lifting up as the basis for needing dramatic immigration reform," said Richard Parkins, EMM's director. "We will be in solidarity with our churches extending compassion to vulnerable migrant families."
Valencia said that many people were afraid to get involved for fear of harassment or endangering others who may be undocumented. Sanctuary activists hope that within the next few months, a Ventura County church will shelter Liliana, so she may be closer to her family.
"What is really sad is that, in Ventura County where the family was living, we knocked on so many doors and faith communities including her own parish and they offered her no help," Valencia said. "People are very much afraid. It wasn't for lack of compassion; they are afraid for others, as well as for themselves."
The failure to approve immigration reform carries moral consequences, he said, adding, "the sanctity of the family is at stake here."
New Sanctuary Movement: re-imagining and remembering immigration The New Sanctuary Movement was launched May 9 in cities across the United States, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Seattle, and San Diego. It is a coalition of interfaith religious leaders and congregations who have agreed to take a public, moral stand on behalf of immigrants' rights.
The members also agree to show, through education and advocacy, the actual suffering of immigrant workers and families under current and proposed legislation and to protect immigrants against hate, workplace discrimination and unjust deportation.
"God demands it," said Tom Crowe, St. Luke's senior warden.
"My grandmother came over from Ireland to seek a new life," he said. "That's what this country stands for. Financially, theologically, socially, it makes sense. I hope the church can take the lead in this movement to help educate others about reform."
Crowe, 56, who teaches social work at California State University at Long Beach, said the church vestry voted unanimously to become a sanctuary parish and to welcome Liliana.
"The main point of the movement is to help this country re-imagine what it means to be an immigrant in this country and to do it differently this time, and to really be the hospitable nation we believe we are," added Wakelee-Lynch.
Sanctuary congregations pledge material, spiritual and physical support in their sanctuaries and among congregants. St. Luke's has already established a rota to cook and to share meals communally with Liliana, Crowe said. A microwave, rocking chair, refrigerator and other furniture has been donated for her living quarters.
"A sanctuary is more than a physical place for the faithful to worship. It is a sacred space that guarantees compassion, protection and the love of God," said Salvatierra.
An estimated 222,000 immigrants are believed to have been deported over the past year. Unlike thousands who fled political repression in the early 1980s, today's immigrants are seeking improved economic and social conditions. Most are long-time residents who pay taxes and contribute in other ways to society.
Salvatierra underscored the importance of family values as a cornerstone of American beliefs, explaining "we are responding to a broken system that is increasingly creating broken families, and broken lives."
More emotional manipulation by those on the Religious Left, at least she has a couple of anchor babies to comfort her.
Revoke tax free status.
The article starts out saying the mother faces deportation and then say both parents face it. Sounds fishy.
Just say NO to Amnesty!! Keep calling!! Its NOT OVER!!
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This makes no sense. If Liliana’s husband is a citizen, she qualifies for a visa automatically. There is something they are not telling us in this story. It is disgraceful that these churches go so far out of the way to defy the law. Wonder how they’d feel about the law if someone stole all the plate on their alter, or used a real estate deal to steal their property. Self-righteous prigs.
“Juan sought refuge in the United States after his father was kidnapped during the conflict in Guatemala. He runs a successful gardening business and is the father of two children who are U.S. citizens. His mother, who also arrived as a refugee, is a U.S. citizen. But because he lacked effective legal support, he faces an order of deportation, she said.”
Let’s see if I can read between the lines... The story is about two anchor babies, one legal immigrant and one illegal immigrant, who “lacked effective legal support” at the time...
Flame me if I'm wrong but I don't think that there is such a thing as legal sanctuary here in the USA. Some places in the Old World maybe...but not here.
Bingo. Wanna play politics and break the law? Pay the price.
Why can they not be honest?
This is getting freaking ridiculous. These people are playing us for suckers...and we’re letting them.
There is but one law, and Canon Law is not it. (Neither is Sharia Law.) Everyone here is governed by the rule of law. These laws are passed by the elected representatives of the people and apply throughout the land - including land owned by the Catholic church. There is no place of “sanctuary” from that law.
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“don’t understand why this would happen to them,” she said”
How does this happen? Well, you did something wrong? You came to the US without permission?
Nobody made you have anchor babies, so just take them home with you...
“The members also agree to show, through education and advocacy, the actual suffering of immigrant workers and families under current and proposed legislation and to protect immigrants against hate, workplace discrimination and unjust deportation.
“God demands it,” said Tom Crowe, St. Luke’s senior warden.”
I’m a Christian and when these heathens accuse my God of going against his own Word I see red...
God says to obey the laws of the land...
It's not a church, it's a criminal enterprise.
You mean, like how they are suing churches (with the goal of taking all the property of not only the parish but the pastors and individual vestry members) that left to join CANA in December, rather than accept the force-fed homosexual theology?
But hey, it's just another day in the Life and Work of The Episcopal Cult.