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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
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    Oregon Illegal Alien Who Hid in a Church Gets Arrested

    Oregon Immigrant Who Hid in a Church Gets Arrested

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Nov 6, 2014, 5:03 PM ET
    By GOSIA WOZNIACKA Associated Press

    An immigrant activist who took refuge at an Oregon church more than a month ago to avoid deportation has been arrested on federal charges of illegal re-entry.

    Francisco Aguirre, who came to the U.S. from El Salvador nearly two decades ago, was arrested Thursday at the Clackamas County Circuit Court. He was there to settle a DUI case.

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported Aguirre to El Salvador in 2000 after a drug conviction. He then unlawfully re-entered the country.

    Aguirre — who has two children who are U.S. citizens and is now the coordinator of a Portland nonprofit that runs a day labor center — disputes the criminal prosecution on drug-dealing charges 15 years ago. His defense attorney Barbara Gabriela Ghio declined to comment Thursday.

    Aguirre took refuge at Augustana Lutheran Church in mid-September after federal immigration agents tried to detain him outside his home. The agents did not have a warrant, so they could not enter his home.

    He came to the attention of authorities in August after a DUI arrest. Records show the 35-year-old was indicted by a grand jury at the end of September on the illegal re-entry charge.

    Officials with Oregon's U.S. Attorney's office, who prosecuted the case, also declined to comment.

    Aguirre is among those who have taken sanctuary in U.S. churches in recent years because authorities generally don't make arrests in places of worship.

    Aguirre says he first entered the U.S. illegally in 1995. He worked as a day laborer and helped found the nonprofit group that operates the day labor center.

    Court records show that in 1998, Aguirre, then 19, was involved in small-time drug dealing in Portland, selling cocaine and heroin to undercover police officers on multiple occasions.

    In July 1999, he pleaded guilty to two counts of delivery of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years of probation. Aguirre later changed his plea to no contest.

    Aguirre said the evidence against him was fabricated and is untrue. He has said he received bad advice from a lawyer and couldn't defend himself because he didn't speak English.

    Since first seeking refuge at the church in mid-September, Aguirre has gained supporters, including local clergy members, labor leaders, and even the mayor of Portland.

    His supporters, some of whom showed up in court, said Aguirre has become an exemplary labor and immigrant rights' organizer and should be allowed to remain in the U.S. with his family.

    Aguirre's immigration lawyer, Stephen Manning, had said Aguirre was in the process of obtaining a U-visa, a special document for violent-crime victims who help authorities investigate or prosecute cases.

    Experts estimate about 300 congregations around America are ready to take in immigrants. This year, at least three immigrants have taken sanctuary in churches in Arizona and one in a church in Chicago.


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  2. #2
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    Apr 2012
    Now arrest the preacher and the deacons for harboring an alien fugitive. Nip this church sanctuary thing in the bud.
    Mayday likes this.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    PARADISE (San Diego)
    Officials hesitant to arrest immigrants who seek church sanctuary

    Posted 7/16/2008 8:08 PM
    By Sophia Tareen, Associated Press

    CHICAGO — Everyone knows where Flor Crisostomo lives, even the federal immigration officials who have ordered her deported to Mexico. The reason they haven't detained her is her address — Adalberto United Methodist Church.

    Another woman famously took refuge in that church as she championed immigration reform, and at least 13 other illegal immigrants are doing the same at churches around the United States. So far, they have little to fear.

    Arizona tribe says it hinders sacred rites

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have arrested illegal immigrants by the hundreds in raids at factories, restaurants, malls, farms and meat packing plants, but they have handled cases involving churches delicately.

    "Our agency takes enforcement actions when we deem it appropriate," said Julie Myers, assistant secretary of homeland security for ICE. "I am personally not aware of an instance when ICE has gone into a church. That being said, if there was a particular, extremely egregious, ax murderer or something else, that's not to say we would not enforce the law at that time."

    Avoiding churches is unofficial policy for federal immigration officials, according to Doris Meissner, a former commissioner at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the agency that oversaw immigration until the Department of Homeland Security was formed in 2003.

    Since the 1970s the unwritten rule has been "no churches, no playgrounds, no schools," said Meissner, now a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

    Critics say making exceptions for churches, where immigrants openly — and in Crisostomo's case, very publicly — defy deportation, makes the agency look lax.

    "These are people who deliberately violated the law," said Dave Gorak, executive director of the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration. "We can't even enforce the laws without being criticized as Gestapo."

    But Meissner said it wouldn't make sense for the agency to devote resources to arrest the relatively small number of people in sanctuary.

    "An agency like ICE has far more work than it can possibly ever do," Meissner said. "You want to use those resources to thwart as much as possible egregious criminal behavior. A single person in a church doesn't really measure very high on a list."

    Crisostomo came to the U.S. in 2000, paying a smuggler in Mexico to get her across the border. She was arrested in 2006 during a raid at a wooden pallet company in Chicago.

    She has been at the West Side church for six months, since the Board of Immigration Appeals ordered her to leave the United States, holding news conferences, writing blogs and lecturing school groups about immigration issues.

    Over the past year, ICE has focused on raids at workplaces.

    "They pick work sites because they understand it is work that acts as a lure for unauthorized migrants to come to the U.S.," said Louis DeSipio, a political science professor who teaches Chicano/Latino studies at the University of California, Irvine. "ICE is sensitive to the publicity effect of their actions.

    They are careful on respecting religion and churches."

    At the same time, ICE must "take into account that there is a public image issue and that they're being taunted," Meissner said.

    Adalberto United Methodist gained widespread attention when it offered sanctuary to another immigrant, Elvira Arellano, who used it as a base to champion immigration reform.

    Arellano stayed there for a year with her U.S.-born son, and frequently spoke about immigrant rights.

    She was arrested and deported to Mexico only after she left her sanctuary last August to travel to a rally in Los Angeles.

    "We do conduct enforcement activities at a time and place of the government's choosing," said Myers, ICE's top official. "With Ms. Arellano, we believe that an appropriate time was when she was kind of traveling outside of the institution."

    Arellano has been lauded as a heroine of the New Sanctuary Movement, which calls for immigration reform, and Crisostomo says she's following in Arellano's footsteps.

    "We have to show the government that we are many, we are strong, we are humans and that we deserve respect in this country," said Crisostomo. "This is a church that was made to help the fight of people who are undocumented."

    The New Sanctuary Movement, which makes living arrangements for illegal immigrants at churches, is modeled after a similar movement for Central Americans in the 1980s. Its goal is to call attention to immigration reform, but organizers believe sanctuary is a temporary solution, said Kristin Kumpf, a national organizer for the movement.

    "The churches have been treated as sacred space," said Kumpf. But "no one can stay in sanctuary forever."
    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 11-07-2014 at 12:45 AM.

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  4. #4
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Judge Frees Immigrants Rights Activist Francisco Aguirre

    Judge Frees Immigrants Rights Activist Francisco Aguirre

    Written by Helen Silvis Of The Skanner News
    Published: 07 November 2014

    Francisco Aguirre took refuge in Augustana Lutheran Church in Northeast Portland Sept. 19 after Immigration agents came to his door. Photo: Helen Silvis

    UPDATE: Press release from activists supporting Francisco Aguirre:
    Today a federal judge ordered the temporary release of community labor leader Francisco Aguirre. Aguirre spent 45 days in sanctuary with the support of hundreds of community leaders from faith, labor and immigrant rights organizations. He was arrested yesterday after he appeared at the Clackamas County Courthouse to resolve his DUI charge.

    Judge Janice Stewart offered that he will be released before midnight tonight.

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed ICE has lifted its detainer on Aguirre, meaning his removal from the U.S. is on hold pending the outcome of his federal case.

    “Today is an incredible day of justice for Francisco and his family. We applaud the judge’s decision, and it is a good feeling to know that in Oregon, you can find justice and a humane approach to treat our brothers and sisters as they deserve. We will not stop until there is not one more deportation,” said Pastor Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church, where Francisco stayed in sanctuary.

    “We are very thankful that justice was served today and that Francisco can be reunited with me and his three children tonight. We are also hopeful that ICE will respect his U-visa process and that my husband can come home and be with his family in peace, without fear of persecution from ICE,” said Rosa Navarro, on behalf on the Aguirre family.

    Immigrant rights activist Francisco Aguirre was arrested Thursday when he left sanctuary to attend a court hearing on a DUII citation. A rally to support him will be held 12:45, Friday, Nov. 7 at Portland’s Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, 1000 SW 3rd Ave., in downtown Portland.

    Acting on a warrant issued by US Attorney Amanda Marshall, sheriffs arrested Aguirre on charges of entering the country illegally 11 years ago. He came to authorities attention after getting a DUII citation. He went to court to enter a diversion program for the DUII. His blood alcohol was .12 above the legal limit of 0.8, the Oregonian reported.

    “ICE says it has priorities in its enforcement, but we have witnessed the ruthless prioritization of Francisco in what can only be retaliation for his role as a labor and civil rights leader in our community,” said Rae Anne Lafrenz, coordinator of the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, in a statement. “ ICE and its out-of-control behavior is a greater threat to our safety in Portland than Francisco ever will be. It is ICE that should be on trial, not this father and community servant.”

    An organizer with VOZ Workers Rights Education Project, Aguirre has been living in Augustana Lutheran Church in Northeast Portland, after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents visited his home, Sept. 19.

    Supporters say he should be allowed to pursue a pending U-visa application. But the US Citizenship and Immigration Services has now cancelled his appointment.

    Mayor Charlie Hales issued a statement in support of Aguirre, saying

    “I have been informed that Francisco Aguirre was arrested today in Clackamas County and is being held, while federal agents plan to take him into custody.

    Mr. Aguirre was not in court today because of his immigration status. He was in a Clackamas County Court on an accusation of driving under the influence. But he was taken into custody on the likelihood that he will be deported.

    As I stated this summer, Francisco Aguirre is an important voice on the issues of equity and immigration rights. Our community benefits from the work done by Francisco and the Voz Workers Rights Education Project. Francisco speaks out on the issues that are of upmost importance to a wide array of residents. He clearly loves this community and fights to make it better. And for this, we are grateful.

    Naturally, I have faith that the U.S. Attorney for Oregon will handle this case in a just manner. I do not presuppose the outcome. I also do not know if Mr. Aguirre should be deported. A court will decide that. But I do know that our community is better off for having him here, in Oregon, with his family, working hard and paying his taxes, and speaking out on issues that impact our community.

    I stand with mayors across the nation who are calling on Congress to address comprehensive immigration reform. This case, and the way it has been handled, is a glaring example of why that reform is needed right now.”

    Aguirre, who has been living with his wife and two children in Oregon, was taken to the Multnomah County Justice Center. He says he will go on hunger strike until he is released, and in solidarity with the women fasting in front of the white house for administrative relief.

    Pastor Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church, said the faith community is called on to welcome everyone and to keep families together.

    “We know that Francisco has made mistakes in the past, but he has tried to change and has proven through his work as a community organizer that he holds the same common values of dignity and respect for all,” Knutson said in a statement.

    Aguirre was deported in 2000 after being convicted in a drug trafficking case. He has said he opened his home to people who were selling drugs because they were homeless. He says he didn’t know they had drugs and he did not understand all the ramifications of the case because his English was not then fluent.

    Unidos con Francisco and the Augustana Lutheran Church have planned an “Interfaith service for freedom” this Sunday November 9th at the church, 2710 NE 14th Ave, at 6:00 pm. Media can reserve parking spaces for news vehicles by contacting the church in advance:


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