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Immigrant Rights Activist Leaves Church Sanctuary

Continues to Advocate for Rights of Undocumented Immigrants
By Kosta Harlan |
October 22, 2009
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Flor Crisóstomo and Carlos Montes
Flor Crisóstomo and Carlos Montes of the Southern California Immigration Coalition and the Network to Fight for Economic Justice speaking at the “We Say Fight Back!” conference in Chicago, Illinois on Oct. 3 (Fight Back! News/Kim Defranco)

Flor Crisóstomo, a well-known organizer for the rights of immigrants and indigenous peoples, announced on Oct. 19 that she would leave her church sanctuary in Chicago to advance her advocacy and organizing for immigrants rights to a new stage.

In 2006, Flor Crisóstomo was one of 1200 people detained in a raid by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) at the IFCO Systems plant. Crisóstomo, an undocumented immigrant, was scheduled for deportation. She decided to fight the decision.

In a press conference on the day she was scheduled for deportation in January 2008, Crisóstomo said, "I am not leaving. I have asked and been granted sanctuary in my church. I am not defying the laws of this country and I am not hiding." Crisóstomo emphasized, "I am taking a stand of civil disobedience to make America see what they are doing. I hope that adding my grain of sand to the struggle will help to get the U.S. Congress to act to fix a broken law and an inhuman system of undocumented labor."

In explaining her decision to leave the church sanctuary, Crisóstomo indicated that staying in the church had begun to lose its political effectiveness for the immigrants rights movement. "I came to the decision to leave sanctuary in order to begin what would be the next phase of my activism and to more effectively serve this struggle in the days, months and years ahead," Crisóstomo said.

Crisóstomo emphasized that she will continue to organize and fight for the rights of immigrants and encouraged others to join with her. "I ask all the undocumented people not to give up on our struggle and to keep the hope that we will achieve a just and humane immigration reform," she said.

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