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Sanctuary Movement Case of 11 Church Workers Goes to Jury

Times Staff Writer

After months of testimony and legal arguing, the fate of 11 church workers charged with conspiring to violate immigration laws by participating in the sanctuary movement was delivered to a U.S. District Court jury here Thursday.

The jury met for four hours and is scheduled to resume its deliberations today.

The case, in which the church workers are accused of helping illegal aliens fleeing unstable homelands in Central America, was given to the jury about 11 a.m., after nearly an hour of instructions from U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll.

Called ‘Good People’

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The nationwide sanctuary movement of giving succor through the church to homeless and landless aliens fleeing strife-torn homelands began here. Some of its founders are on trial, and defense attorneys portrayed them as “good people” who were “acting out a church ministry.”

But the Reagan Administration views the “so-called sanctuary movement” as “lawlessness,” as Alan C. Nelson, commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, put it in a San Francisco speech in March.

And Carroll drew the distinction for the jurors Thursday, telling them: “You must determine whether the defendants entered into the (conspiracy) alleged . . . and/or performed the substantive offenses alleged, having the requisite intent to violate the law, or merely joined together for the purpose of engaging in activities protected by the First Amendment.”

He added: “The First Amendment not only protects private aspects of religion but public worship, discussion, study and action.”

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But the judge also instructed the jury that “the freedoms protected by the First Amendment . . . do not, as a matter of law, immunize (a conspiracy) or the substantive offenses alleged.”


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