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Casa Juan Diego Under Siege from the Ku Klux Klan: Justice Demands Immigration Reform

   The first issue we are asked about at Casa Juan Diego by the groups that visit us generally related to the status of immigrants: Do we help them become legal?

We would be happy to assist anyone with the cost of beginning the process of legalization. The problem is that hardly any immigrants can qualify to become residents or citizens of the United States under the present legislation. Thus, the path to the offices of Immigration is not well worn.

Unfortunately, this leaves immigrants in the state of limbo, unable to establish a normal life with any documents. They are unable to visit family because the undocumented journey back and forth is a terrorist world—witnessed by the stories in these pages.

We were very honored to be quoted on the front page of the Houston Chronicle in response to the rise in cost for applying for legalization by immigrants. The rise in cost is astronomical—truly unfair and unjust—and contributes to the less than human status of the undocumented workers.

However, something worse than the tremendous increase in the cost of the application is the impossibility of even beginning the application process. The path to legal immigration is closed for all practical purposes.

We need new comprehensive immigration legislation.

There is no quick or easy fix for immigrants, no matter how much money they have. Being undocumented limits immigrants’ ability to seek recourse and makes them vulnerable to abuse by employers.

Of course, the economists tell us that this undocumented labor force is good for business, since undocumented status forces the immigrant to work for less with less complaints. Hardly a positive factor—keeping people illegal to limit their ability to pursue justice in the marketplace. It is rather like the old idea of keeping your wife barefoot and pregnant in order to control her.

“But it keeps down prices!” they say.


Another reason for limiting people becoming legal is the fact that it creates a deportable population, one that can be deported at will before the next immigrant legislation—as is currently happening across the United States in massive deportations.

The phenomenon of raids on businesses who may have hired undocumented workers makes it impossible for immigrants to have any kind of stable life with their families. Raids have often taken place at the request of employers when the workers attempted to organize for better conditions or wages.

Immigration Reform and the Ku Klux Klan

The attempts at comprehensive immigration reform last year were sabotaged by the Ku Klux Klan and its child, the Minute Men, whose lobbying turned the House of Representatives legislation into the draconian, inhuman H.R. 4437. (See “Helping the Poor, the Immigrant, and the Injured May Be Considered Treason According to House Bill H. R. 4437” Houston Catholic Worker , January-February 2006 and “New Immigration Bill Shames United States: All Hispanics at Risk,” HCW March-April 2006.)

Klansmen and Minute Men were apparently trying to repeat their efforts from the 1920s when their lobbying rooted in their hatred and suspicion of people of color and especially of Southern European Catholics and Asians was incorporated into restrictive, intolerant immigration law in the U. S. This law lasted until the 1960s. In the 1920s the Klan used the scare tactic that there must be Communists coming across the border with the Mexicans—just as the cry today is, “Look at all those terrorists who might sneak across the border.”

Already in 1925, as reported in Time Magazine, some factions of the Ku Klux Klan had changed their name to the Minute Men. It is nothing new.

History has repeated itself also in the resurgent attempts to blame the country’s problems on immigrants through scare tactics and influence on politicians—and it has again taken place in Colorado, the center of Klan activity in earlier years. One politician prominent in the movement against immigrants is using this as the foundation for his presidential campaign.

Casa Juan Diego Under Siege By the Ku Klux Klan

Protestors have begun to regularly target Casa Juan Diego, bringing signs attacking immigrants as murderers.

Various reports on Houston Indymedia have mentioned that the Ku Klux Klan has placed Casa Juan Diego under siege with protests and cameras and hostile shouting. Their reports were picked up by Indymedia in Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, and other countries.

One commentator said, “This past Wednesday, the 14th, the KKK showed up near Casa Juan Diego to harass clients and staff. They were in the parking lot of the Jack-In-The-Box at Shepherd and Washington, yelling racist insults to any brown skinned person who was within shouting distance. This eventually grew to the point of yelling insults to anyone they thought had anything to do with Casa Juan Diego. According to some staff, they appeared to have the approval of Jack-In-The-Box management for use of their parking lot, as some sort of staging point.
Not only the Klan showed up, but the same sort of harassment was done by other folks as the Minute Men. Not that there is any difference in their messages.
Casa Juan Diego has been in existence for more than 25 years, providing a safe place for immigrants to receive shelter and comfort, and is part of the Catholic Worker Movement, started by Dorothy Day, many years ago.

Another defended Casa Juan Diego: “The mission of Casa Juan Diego is from the Bible’s Book of Mark (sic) chapter 25: Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” with a link to Casa Juan Diego’s website.

For information on comprehensive, humane immigration reform, see the website www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXVII, No. 2, March-April 2007.