In an illegal effort by religious leaders across Southern California, private homes are being prepared to hide illegals from immigration authorities. The idea is to hide the illegals in plain sight and use the protections of the Fourth Amendment against government agents trying to deport illegals.
Sometimes, the home is one occupied by a citizen that is providing part of their home as a sanctuary for illegals. Other times it is a home that has been converted to house 1-3 families. The leaders behind this scheme believe that by using private residences, they can forestall a raid by ICE agents.
Under the Fourth Amendment, a private home is protected from illegal search by government agents. But there are problems with that. First, by taking part in this action, they are part of a criminal conspiracy and have opened their property to seizure under RICO statutes. Secondly, it will be easy to get a warrant for raids while agents surround the property to make sure no one leaves.
The network formed by Los Angeles religious leaders in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, intends to shelter thousands of illegals in safe houses across Southern California. The well-meaning if misguided plan is the brainchild of Rev. Zach Hoover, who wants to help illegals stay hidden.
The Rapid Response Team as the network is know, is not a new idea. Reverend Zach Hoover, of the interfaith community organization LA Voice was not a member of the Sanctuary Movement during the 1980s. When US congregations resisted federal law and provided shelter for illegals fleeing violence in their home countries. Many congregations offered sanctuary, housing the illegals, while others offered food and legal assistance.
Under federal law, churches are technically public spaces that authorities could enter to conduct law enforcement actions. In 2011, the DHS instituted a policy limiting action at religious locations. The policy ordered ICE to not enter “sensitive locations” like schools and institutions of worship. A policy that will likely be reversed under the new administration.
Hoover says “There’s a difference between someone knocking on your door at the church and someone knocking on the door of your home, where, if they don’t have a warrant, they shouldn’t be entering.” Hoover estimates the underground network could hide 100 illegals today. Soon, he believes, they could hide thousands.
Hoover admits it’s a tiny fraction of the estimated one million illegals in Los Angeles county. The network would focus on families fearing separation and working to keep them together by “moving into a place so that ICE can’t find them,” Hoover says.
A Jewish man in the group compares it to the Jews during WWII. When Nazis rounded up Jews, Germans resisted, hiding their Jewish friends in attics and basements. “It’s hard as a Jew,” he says, “not to think about both the people who did open their doors and take risks to safeguard Jews, as well as those who didn’t. We’d like to be the people who did.”
The man seems to forget two facts. No one is rounding up these people for execution. Secondly, unlike Jews, they are not citizens, they are criminals simply by being in the country.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, says the law is clear about what these groups are intending to do. “They’re committing a felony. Harboring is a felony,” Krikorian says. “Regular folks hiding people in a basement face jail time because it is ultimately a smuggling conspiracy.”