Church to Be Billed for Immigrant Rally

AP, September 19, 2007

A church that is sheltering an illegal immigrant from Mexico and her U.S.-born infant son will be billed nearly $40,000 for the city police presence during a weekend protest, officials said.

Mayor Paul Miller, who called United Church of Christ congregants irresponsible for “harboring an illegal immigrant,” told the City Council Monday that he was ready to issue the $39,306 invoice right away.

The church’s decision to shelter the woman provoked the Sunday protest, which required a police presence, officials said.

“This City Council has the obligation to protect all citizens in the community against any potential violence as a result of these ill-conceived actions,” Miller said.

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An anti-illegal immigration group organized the protest and said it hoped to make a citizen’s arrest of the woman, who has identified herself only as Liliana. The rally drew over a hundred activists on both sides of the illegal immigration debate.

Between four and 15 officers were present during the three-hour rally, with two sheriff’s tactical response teams on standby, police Chief Mike Lewis said.

The woman has been living in the church’s former parsonage as part of the New Sanctuary Movement, which arranges church accommodations for illegal immigrants in the U.S.

City officials said they previously advised United Church of Christ Rev. June Goudey against taking in Liliana, who had earlier been sheltered at a church in Long Beach.

“This city is not going to be known as sanctuary city,” Miller said.

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