SB1070 Update: Church and SB1070

by David Safier

Among the examples I've used here and in columns in the Explorer about the consequences of SB1070 is this:

If a pastor or church-goer picks up people to drive them to Sunday worship and knows some of them are undocumented, everyone in the car, including the driver, can be in serious trouble if the car is pulled over for a broken tail light.

Now Republic columnist E.J. Montini has picked up this topic and done it far more thoroughly than I have.

The first person arrested under SB 1070 might not be an illegal immigrant, but your pastor.

"Yes, we're very aware of that and have had many discussions on the subject," said Rev. Jan Olav Flaaten, executive director of the Arizona Ecumenical Council, a collective of many different denominations.

Among other things, SB 1070 makes it a crime to knowingly transport, harbor, conceal or shield an illegal immigrant if you do so while committing a separate criminal offense.

Since no one transports more illegal residents around town than good-willed, good-hearted church people, it's likely that one of them will be the first arrested under the law. Assuming they have the guts to carry on with ministries that had no such dangers before, but will now.


If a church bus or van has a broken taillight or makes an illegal U-turn – in other words, commits a separate criminal offense – while illegal immigrants are onboard, it's possible the driver could be charged.

Because of this, one of the lawsuits challenging SB 1070 is based on the notion that the law inhibits First Amendment freedom to worship.

Tucson's own Southside Presbyterian Church is involved in the lawsuit, and Montini discusses the issue with the church's former pastor, Rev. John Fife.

The entire column is worth a read.

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