Monday, April 14, 2008

ICE enters Church Retreat to arrest immigrants

If ICE agents are going into churches looking for undocumented people, then that means we are no longer safe. When I mean we, I mean all of us. Yes, they are only after "illegals" (excuse me for using the word) but if the federal government (of which ICE is a part of) can find within itself to carry out such clearly unconstitutional acts - then all sorts of other civil liberties will be lost by all of us.

Will this mean they will start entering schools? hospitals? day care centers?

They are already entering homes without a warrant - verbally threatening people if they don't open the door. If this continues they may begin to make this a daily occurrence throughout the country - and truly make us a police state.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I wish one of the presidential candidates would speak up against the raids and say they would be over as soon as they were inaugurated. Unfortunately Clinton and Obama are focusing continually on insulting each other and forgetting about the rest of us - and McCain has probably gone as far left as he can go and still be taken (somewhat) seriously.

Church members deported on retreat
Valley ministers plan meeting on situation

by Yvonne Wingett - Apr. 14, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Word of the weekend deportations of members of a Phoenix church who were on a retreat near Prescott chilled Valley pastors, whose churches are filled with thousands of Hispanics and undocumented immigrants.

Pastors worry the deportations could discourage undocumented immigrants from worshiping in public and could force ministers to change the way they counsel members about their faith.

"This is telling us that maybe they won't allow us to have religious freedom, as we like to do retreats," said Jose Gonzalez, an associate pastor of the Hispanic Ministry at North Phoenix Baptist Church.
He said Hispanic pastors, who previously had a "this won't happen to me, this won't affect my congregation" attitude on immigration, now are taking it more seriously.

About 20 Valley pastors from evangelical churches will meet today to talk about how to respond to the deportations and address their congregations. The incident occurred Saturday morning when nine people from a small Christian church called Christiana Agape were detained at a Prescott campground after they were determined to be undocumented.

Campers at the White Spar Campground called the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office to complain the group was singing and had music on in the middle of the night, according to a sheriff's spokesman on Saturday. Officers arrived at the campgrounds around 7 a.m.

That contradicts reports from family members of those involved, said Magdalena Schwartz, an assistant pastor at Iglesia Comunidad de Vida church in Mesa, who is helping the families. According to Schwartz, the group from the Phoenix church started playing music and praying around 6:30 a.m.

Sheriff's officials said they were responding to reports of fighting, she said, and asked for identification. Immigration officials helped determine several were in the country illegally.

Yavapai sheriff's officials typically do not ask about immigration status unless a crime is involved.

Last week, two Yavapai jail officers completed federal training to enforce immigration laws. But Yavapai Sheriff Steve Waugh told an Arizona Republic reporter that he was not interested in enforcing routine immigration violations. Rather, the two officers would identify and process for possible deportation of foreign-born individuals booked into the Yavapai County jail after they have been accused of crimes.

Waugh said four sheriff's deputies also are scheduled to receive training from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Those officers, however, will be used to go after organizations smuggling illegal immigrants through Yavapai County.

Seven of those detained on Saturday voluntarily returned to Mexico through Nogales after immigration authorities determined they were undocumented, said Vincent Picard, an ICEspokesman. The eighth was released after immigration authorities confirmed he was legally in the country with a work permit. The ninth, believed to be the church pastor, Manuel Maldonado, was detained in Florence. His immigration status remained unclear on Sunday.

Maldonado's wife was going to meet with immigrant activists Sunday afternoon, Schwartz said.

"We cannot encourage people to go camping any more," Schwartz said. "For us, it's an evil attack. We cannot pray any more in the public places, or go camping because somebody can call the sheriff. It's intimidation. It makes us scared."

Reporters Chelsea Schneider and Daniel Gonzalez contributed to this article.

for link to AR article, click the title of this post

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