With the first witness still on the stand and a long witness list, the two-month-old sanctuary movement trial is not expected to wind up quickly.
The federal case against 11 movement members charged with conspiracy and smuggling of aliens began Oct. 22. It resumes Tuesday after a recess that began Dec. 20.
The 11 defendants, who include two priests and a nun, are charged with conspiring to illegally smuggle Guatemalans and Salvadorans into the United States. The government’s position is that the aliens were seeking jobs. The defendants maintain that the aliens were refugees seeking political asylum.
The trial’s pace has slowed as U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll has heard repeated motions over what defense approaches will be permitted and over federal immigration policies. The defense has sought to include testimony on religious rationale, but Carroll has repeatedly said no.
Jesus Cruz, the government informer who infiltrated the movement, was undergoing cross-examination over his credibility when the trial recessed. Under defense attorneys’ questioning, he has at times seemed less certain about names, dates, places and conversations than he was during prosecution questioning.
A Mexican national who has lived in Phoenix since 1954 and holds resident alien status, Cruz said he infiltrated the movement in March, 1984, and kept up his undercover activities until late November, 1984, all under the orders of James Rayburn, a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service special agent.
Cruz said he lied to those whose movement he infiltrated to gain their confidence. He said he transported at least nine groups of illegal aliens for pay within the United States, with government authorization, in December, 1982, and from May to August, 1983.