Sanctuary congregations and the law

A major difficulty of the Sanctuary Movement has been to overcome the prepossession of the press expressed in the headline, ``Sanctuary for illegals: a church dilemma'' [Jan. 30]. The implication is that somehow sanctuary congregations are breaking the law. Most sanctuary workers hold that our activities comply with excellent laws (the 1949 Geneva Convention, the 1968 United Nations Refugee Convention and Protocol, and the 1980 Refugee Act). The problem arises from the Reagan administration's assertion of ``illegality'' to cover its biased administration of the law. We work with undocumented aliens who have fled well-known oppressive military regimes whose principal mark in history will be the terror-forced exile of perhaps 40 percent of their native populations. Refugees defined in the 1980 Refugee Act are not the illegal aliens defined by the Immigration Act. It follows that in prosecuting anyone for transporting or harboring illegal aliens, the prosecution must show that the undocumented aliens were neither refugees nor believed to be refugees by the defendant. The current church-state conflict will ultimately be settled in the courts. John H. Hubbard Cincinnati

Melvin Maddocks's quotation in ``Yes sir, it sure is lonely at the top'' (Jan. 2) -- reminds me of a statement of my mentor, Mr. Emerson: ``Solitude is naught and society is naught. Alternate them and the good of each is seen. . . . Be their master, not their slaves.'' Yes sir, Mr. Maddocks, I do agree and appreciate your stating it so well. We do need to solve the ``haunting dilemma'' of loneliness and we can. Emerson shows the way. Harriet Kimbro Santa Fe, N.M. Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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