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Friday, February 24, 2017
Underground network readies homes to hide undocumented immigrants
Los Angeles (CNN)A hammer pounds away in the living room of a middle class home. A sanding machine smoothes the grain of the wood floor in the dining room.
But this home Pastor Ada Valiente is showing off in Los Angeles, with its refurbished floors, is no ordinary home.
"It would be three families we host here," Valiente says.
By "host," she means provide refuge to people who may be sought by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. The families staying here would be undocumented immigrants, fearing an ICE raid and possible deportation.
The purchase of this home is part of a network formed by Los Angeles religious leaders across faiths in the wake of Donald Trump's election. The intent is to shelter hundreds, possibly thousands of undocumented people in safe houses across Southern California.
The goal is to offer another sanctuary beyond religious buildings or schools, ones that require federal authorities to obtain warrants before entering the homes.
"That's what we need to do as a community to keep families together," Valiente says.
The religious leaders have a name for their network: the Rapid Response Team. The idea is not necessarily a new one, according to Reverend Zach Hoover, executive director of the interfaith community organization LA Voice.
Hoover, 37, wasn't an active member during the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s when US congregations across faiths resisted federal law and provided shelter for Central Americans fleeing violence in their home countries. Many congregations offered direct sanctuary, housing the undocumented immigrants, while others offered food and legal assistance.
The Rapid Response Team mirrors that structure, but goes one step further by also incorporating private homes, which offer a higher level of constitutional protection than houses of worship and an ability to make it harder for federal agents to find undocumented immigrants. READ MORE