Thursday, September 20, 2007

Growing Church Sanctuary Movement Has A New Face

by Mexica Movement

Tuesday, Jul. 31, 2007 at 12:20 AM

(323) 981-0352

Minuteman protest against church draws over 100 supporters for new Church Sanctuary resident.

Attention is drawn to racist U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

LINK: indymedia_lilliana_sanctuar.jpgqcwlvx.jpg, image/jpeg, 500x400

She is a prisoner, but she is not a criminal. She is a devoted mother, wife, and daughter. She had a full-time job, a driver's license, and paid her taxes. But for the last two months, Liliana (last name withheld) has taken on a new role. She is taking sanctuary within Saint Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach . Liliana has been made a prisoner within an inhumane cage of U.S. migration laws. Despite having a husband who is an American citizen and three children who are also U.S. citizens, ICE officers entered her home in May and attempted to take her away. Like a scene out of "Schindler's List," the storm troopers had declared her "an undesirable" and were subjecting her to forced removal. Terrified and terrorized, Liliana thought of her three children (U.S. citizens), her husband ( U.S. citizen), her brothers and mother who also reside near her.

ICE was demanding to tear her family apart and take away everything she had worked so hard for. By a stroke of luck and persuasion on the part of her husband, Liliana was given five days to turn herself in for deportation. She used that time to find a way to fight back. "I will stay and fight" Those counter-protestors who stayed after the Minuteman protest on Saturday morning met the new face of the Church Sanctuary Movement. Inside the church, a potluck dinner was held for Lilliana and her supporters. Liliana is well-spoken and exudes a quiet strength. She handles television media questions calmly and intelligently. But her pain is never far from the surface. Instead of cowering in fear, she said, she decided to stay and fight ( SEE VIDEO LINKS BELOW). Allowing herself to be deported was unacceptable for her and her family. She has rights and she knows that Washington D.C. is wrestling with changing the laws that imprison her --and her family.

Her Only Crime

Liliana's only "crime" was that she was not born a European.

She was born a Mexican woman, a person of Indigenous descent on this continent. But she was not born in England, Italy , or Germany—three of the 25 European-descent countries which enjoy the privileged U.S.Visa Waiver Program. Other Visa Waiver Program countries include (but are not limited to): Canada, Sweden , Finland, Norway , Denmark, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain , Portugal, Scotland , Wales, The Netherlands, and Ireland.

Liliana recounts a story of meeting an Italian who boasted to her that he was here without an Immigration Visa: he was an Italian national and therefore only needed to flash a simple passport at any U.S. port of entry. No questions asked. Liliana said, "They say that this country isn't racist. So why don't they demand that the Europeans get visas to enter the country? Is it about skin color?"

The Fight Forward

Because she is Mexican, Lilliana is being held to a standard unthinkable of enacting against Europeans. Because she is Mexican, she is now being held in sanctuary, a prisoner of racism. Lilliana never had the "instant amnesty" of being born a Canadian, German, or Australian. And that is why she --and several others-- are fighting for their rights.


Or contact Saint Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach.