Monday, September 24, 2007

Attorney Peter Schey takes on Sanctuary case

Attorney Peter Schey takes on Sanctuary case

Simi Valley, Calif., bills sanctuary church $39,000 for police services during protest

Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law
256 South Occidental Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90057
Telephone: (213) 388-8693 Facsimile: (213) 386-9484\
September 21, 2007
Via email and First Class Mail
Mayor Paul Miller City of Simi Valley 2929 Tapo Canyon Road Simi Valley, CA 93063
David H. Hirsch City of Simi Valley City Attorney 2929 Tapo Canyon Road Simi Valley, CA 93063
Police Chief Mike Lewis City of Simi Valley3901 Alamo Street Simi Valley, CA 93063

Dear Mayor Miller, City Attorney Hirsch, and Police Chief Lewis:

This is to inform you that I represent the United Church of Christ congregation in Simi valley. Along with attorney Gabriella Navarro-Busch, I also represent Liliana, the immigrant being provided sanctuary in the church. This letter addresses two issues: The city's interest in billing the church for police services provided to monitor demonstrations outside the church, and any interest the city or local law enforcement may have in seeking to arrest Liliana. I am informed that last Sunday about 100 protesters from anti-immigrant organizations gathered in front of UCC to speak out against the church's recent action to provide sanctuary to Liliana. The protest, reportedly organized by Save Our State, also attracted counterprotests from other groups. Recent media articles have reported that Mayor Paul Miller wants the city of Simi Valley to hold Simi's United Church of Christ financially liable for law enforcement costs related to maintaining the peace during last Sunday's three-hour protest outside the church- a bill in upwards of $39,000. The Simi Valley Acorn reported on September 21, 2007, that Mayor Miller told the City Council: "Because the church willfully decided to harbor an illegal alien and made a public announcement of that fact, it was responsible for provoking the demonstration that occurred at their location this past Sunday … As a result I believe that Rev. (June C.) Goudey and the members of her congregation are responsible for bearing the entire cost of the law enforcement response necessary to deal with the situation." Mayor Miller reportedly suggested that the council consider enacting an ordinance enabling the city to recover costs from any group that attempts to "protect those in violation of the law." The Simi valley Acorn further reports that Mayor Miller stated: "I firmly believe that June Goudey and her congregation at the (UCC) have acted irresponsibly by harboring an illegal alien and making a public announcement calling attention to themselves by those groups who oppose their point of view." The notion that the targets of public demonstrations can be charged by a municipality for police services to monitor such demonstrations is absurd and outlandish. While such proposals may make media headlines, they are entirely without legal foundation. If Mayor Miller announced that he supported a congregation's extension of sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant and as a result anti-immigrant groups organized demonstrations outside his home, could the city council vote to bill him for the police services required to monitor such demonstrations? Obviously the answer is no. By all accounts the demonstrators outside the church were exercising their First Amendment rights to protest or support the church's decision to grant Liliana sanctuary. While police services may or may not have been necessary under the circumstances, we do not question the city's decision to expend funds on such services. On the other hand, any effort by the city to bill the church for such police services would be solely undertaken to garner publicity and would be a complete waste of tax-payers money. Regarding any interest the Mayor, city council, or local law enforcement agencies may have in entering the church and seizing Liliana, this is to inform you that any such action would itself involve a violation of law perhaps far more serious that Liliana's alleged violation of civil immigration laws. Liliana has committed no crimes under State or local law. She is possibly removable from the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Local law enforcement agencies have no jurisdiction whatsoever to become involved in this matter. As best I know, the Department of Homeland Security has made no request to local law enforcement agencies to enter the church and seize Liliana. In fact, representatives of the federal Government have stated that they will not enter the church to seize Liliana. I have informed the federal Government of Liliana's whereabouts. We are carefully reviewing her case to determine whether she is in fact subject to removal or has remedies available to avoid her removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Liliana has received a notice to depart the country, however such notices are routinely provided to tens of thousands of immigrants each year who in fact are entitled to formal hearings before Immigration Judges before they are finally required to leave the country. Liliana has not had such a hearing. We are currently investigating her case to determine whether she is entitled to such a hearing. Pending the completion of our investigation, it is not at all clear that she is immediately subject to removal. Any action that may be taken by local law enforcement agencies to enter the church and seize Liliana will result in immediate legal action to remedy what may constitute trespass, false arrest, false imprisonment, kidnapping, and assorted other charges. In the event that you wish to communicate further about either of the issues mentioned above, please feel free to contact me. I can also be reached by email at . My mobile number is (deleted by this post). I would be happy to meet with you to discuss how we may best proceed to protect the interests of Liliana, the church, the city, and its residents. We certainly look forward to a constructive and positive rather than an adversarial relationship.
Best wishes,
Peter Schey
President and Executive Director cc: Rev. June C. Goudey

Peter A. Schey
President Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law
256 S. Occidental Blvd.Los Angeles, Ca. 90057
Telephone: (213) 388-8693 ext. 104
Facsimile: (213) 386-9484
Electronic mail: <> <> <> <> <;> <>

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