New Law Would Shelter Terrorists
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005 11:00 a.m. EST
A new law that exempts religious groups from prosecution if they employ illegal immigrants as volunteers protects potential terrorists, says Colorado GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo.
Tancredo vows he'll work to repeal the legislation.
"This provision opens a hole in our immigration system so big, a terrorist could drive a truck bomb through it," said Tancredo, a vehement critic of illegal immigration, in a statement reported by the Denver Post.
"Terrorists in the United States have used religious organizations as fronts before," he said. "This provides legal cover for any church, synagogue, mosque or group that calls itself a religion to aid and abet illegals who may pose a national security threat."
The new law - authored by Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) - shields religious groups from a federal law, which prohibits knowingly transporting, concealing, harboring or shielding an illegal immigrant.
Under Bennett's legislation the law no longer applies to religious groups if illegal immigrants are volunteering to serve in a religious activity, such as working as missionaries or in a soup kitchen.
"It does not under any circumstances allow a terrorist or any illegal alien any kind of special sanctuary," Bennett told the Post, adding that church volunteers who are illegal immigrants could still face legal action.
According to the Post, Bennett wrote the provision at the request of attorneys for the Mormon Church, which - according to Bennett - uses the largest number of volunteers of any U.S. religious group.
A spokesman for the church, Michael Purdy, told the Post the law would allow illegal immigrants to serve as Mormon missionaries, which they previously could not do.
"This narrow exception to the immigration act allows people of all faiths to fulfill their religious obligations," Purdy said.
Asked if a church might be protected if it housed illegal immigrants, he said, "No, I don't think so." He said the law does not protect religious groups acting as fronts for terrorists.
But Tancredo's spokesman, Will Adams, said that while Bennett might intend for the law to apply only to soup kitchen volunteers or missionaries, it would give shelter to those working with terrorists.
Adams explained that while the Department of Justice in the past could charge a religious group with immigration violations while investigating alleged terrorist activities, under the new law it could no longer do so.
He added that a large number of terrorism cases are first brought as immigration violations and that religious groups have been charged with sheltering terrorists in the past.
Mormon avoids jail after knife attack on cop
By Court Reporter
A Mormon dad-of-seven, who lunged at a police sergeant with a kitchen knife and had to be subdued with CS gas, has narrowly avoided a prison sentence.
But Malcolm Morgan, 42, was warned at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday by Judge Richard McGregor-Johnson that if he committed a further offence he would be sent to prison.
Police were called to the home of Morgan, in Orchard Road, Feltham, on July 15 last year after an anonymous call saying his wife had been beaten up - prosecutor David Smith told the court at an earlier hearing.
"They found his pregnant wife with dried blood in her hair and her face swollen and bruised," he said.
"The defendant was asleep and, when woken by officers, he lunged at one of them.
"He was arrested and handcuffed for the assault on his wife.
"He then asked to fetch his belongings and reached behind a curtain pulling out a kitchen knife."
He was told to drop the knife by Sergeant Gavin Coleman but instead "lunged at the officer saying ‘Do you want some?'"
The officers fled but returned with CS gas spray with which they used to subdue Morgan.
Morgan denied charges of causing his wife actual bodily harm and affray and of threatening police.
His wife declined to give evidence and that charge was dropped, but a jury found him guilty of affray.
He claimed he had not threatened anyone but merely picked up some belongings.
His counsel, Florida Sakr, said he was a "devoted family man" and the sole breadwinner, and sending him to jail would devastate" the family.
Judge McGregor-Johnson agreed to suspend a nine-month prison sentence for two years with 18 months' supervision and 200 hours' unpaid work and ordered him to pay £500 costs.
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