No Haven For Illegals In Modesto

Eve Hightower, Modesto Bee, July 11, 2007

Modesto will not become the immigrant sanctuary proposed by the Modesto chapter of the Brown Berets.

The Latino rights group asked City Council members Tuesday night to pass an ordinance that would:

-Stop county staff from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement

-Stop law enforcement from asking about people’s legal status

-Require county staff or law enforcement to notify the Brown Berets and other community groups when federal agents are in the area so the groups can advise illegal immigrants.

The Brown Berets grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The local group’s motto is “Culture, Community, Revolution.”

Council members’ decision not to take action on the proposal was no surprise to the 20 Brown Berets members and supporters who attended the meeting, organizer Ricardo Gil Jr. said. But the group intends to continue fighting for sanctuary status.

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Other cities have taken a stand on immigration. San Francisco and Oakland have declared themselves sanctuaries for 21 years by barring city staff from assisting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in search of illegal immigrants.

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Denver are among a growing list of cities that claim immigrant sanctuary status by, to some extent, protecting immigrants that some call “illegal” and others call “undocumented.”

Joan Rutschow shook her head at the idea of Modesto adopting something similar. “We’re not a nation of immigrants. We’re a nation of laws,” she said, quoting columnist Michelle Malkin. Rutschow said making Modesto a sanctuary is against those laws.

Activist John Mataka called the sanctuary concept and people’s ability to move freely without fear of arrest or deportation a human right.

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