Local congregations helping immigrant community after recent arr - KPTV - FOX 12

Local congregations helping immigrant community after recent arrests, deportations

Posted: Updated: Apr 20, 2017 01:37 AM

Amid a flurry of activity by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the Portland faith community is banding together to protect those fearing deportation.

On a day in late March, for example, Pastor Mark Knutson assembled close to two dozen parishioners of Augustana Lutheran Church to accompany Francisco Aguirre to a scheduled meeting with ICE representatives.

"People want to do something. A lot of people are ready to act. There's a moral force rising up in this nation, unlike any we've seen in years," said Knutson.

Aguirre took sanctuary in Knutson's church in 2014 when he faced deportation, and Knutson continues to provide support as Aguirre awaits a judge's ruling on his request for asylum in the U.S.

"12 million sisters and brothers are living in fear right now. And that's morally wrong," said Knutson.

In east Portland, Father Roberto Maldonado was on the phone with one of his parishioners, Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez, moments before he was arrested and detained outside his home.

Maldonado joined other community members in protesting Rodriguez' detention and said his faith compels him to help those seeking shelter and protection.

"As I understand the life of Christ, he himself was a refugee," said Maldonado. "As a Christian, I say this is what the Gospel tells us to do."

Rodriguez was released on bail the day after he was detained but is still awaiting a final decision on his immigration status.

Initially protected by the Obama-era policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Rodriguez was recently convicted of DUI, which effectively revoked his protected status.

Maldonado admits Rodriguez made a mistake but said the one mistake shouldn't cost Rodriguez safety and security in the United States.

"He faced the consequence in the legal court. He did everything that was asked of him by the judge. He is a couple months even of that being expunged from his record," said Maldonado.

Maldonado said the court and the community are ready to forgive Rodriguez, even if the government is not.

Maldonado said he is willing to provide sanctuary for Rodriguez in his church if the need arises.

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