People of various faiths are hiding undocumented immigrants from ICE
There are some people in California, as well as across the U.S., who are willing to break the law to keep undocumented immigrants hidden.
A family in an apartment in California is on the run from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
They’ve been off the grid since last year, according to two girls – who are both American citizens born in the U.S., because their mother who overstayed a tourist visa and is also undocumented is at-risk, they say.
One of the girls said, "Since my mom's status here isn't safe, then we had to pack everything up, everything else was left behind."
ICE deported their father for illegally crossing the border.
Since the family left their former home, they became homeless for months.
“We moved schools, we went somewhere else because we had to leave the city,” one of the girls said. “We were sleeping from house to house, anywhere we could find."
Then they heard about an interfaith network of religious groups that are pledging to resist President Trump's immigration policy by hiding them in safe houses, even in spare rooms of congregants' homes.
The network estimates dozens are being hidden at any one time.
The network connected the family to a Jewish woman.
Hiding her identity, she said, "I grew up in the time where the Holocaust was not so far behind me."
She signed for the apartment -- a cover for the family she's protecting.
Asked if she hears the echoes of history, the woman replied, “One-hundred percent. I think there's a strong feeling in the Jewish community. We cannot let this happen. It's our responsibility. What was done to us cannot happen to other people."
Faced with the possibility of charges for aiding and abetting someone who is undocumented, the woman said she doesn’t see it that way.
“I see it as taking a step to help someone who is in need, a family in need of support,” she said.
Rev. Zach Hoover leads the interfaith network. Across the country, 2,000 congregations of various faiths have been trained -- the great majority in California where Hoover says the network of sanctuary and safe houses remains most active.
A reporter told Hoover, “The federal government might listen to all of this and say, you're violating the law."
"I'm not going to lie, that makes me very nervous,” Hoover said. “There's a part of me sitting here talking to you, I think, gosh, should I be having this conversation. The truth is, our folks are facing a much greater fear every day. As we sit in the church, I'm reminded the God that I worship and guides my life is one who does not always bless every human law. I am (convinced) that we're doing exactly what we should be doing."
The girls in the family in hiding have both been accepted to separate colleges in the fall.
"We're going to do everything in our power to try to convince members of Congress not to support a deportation machine that's ripping families apart,” Hoover said. “You know, a part of me thinks that there's another way possible. But most of the time I'm preparing for this to get worse."
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