Local clergymen whose churches help illegal aliens say they would disobey a proposed law that they say would require them to verify the legal status of their clients.
“We’re going to provide services—period,” says Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington. “We serve tens of thousands of new immigrants—some undocumented, some not—every year. And we can’t not help them.
“It’s the same as with a sick child: You’re not going to ask them if they’re documented before helping them.”
The Rev. Lou Piel, head pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg, says his church will “definitely continue to provide aid,” such as coffee and restroom facilities, to day laborers who gather each morning in the church’s parking lot.
“The policy of the church is, we are a Christian church and these are human beings, whether they are legal or illegal,” Mr. Piel says.
Church leaders are voicing opposition to House legislation that is scheduled to come before the Senate this week.
Sponsored by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, the bill calls for extending legal-status verification duties to public, private, for-profit and nonprofit agencies that help illegal aliens find work.
The bill calls for up to five years in prison for anyone who directs or assists an illegal alien to reside or remain in the United States. It also would impose a maximum fine of $40,000 for each illegal alien who an employer hires or who an agency helps find work.