My View

By Don Sorchych | December 3, 2008

Don SorchychChurch says "Uncle"

This week’s “My View” is an Arizona Newspapers Association Better Newspapers Contest award winning column. Enjoy!

An era has ended with the Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church finally terminating its hiring hall (parking lot) for illegal aliens.

It is a chapter in town history that will fade into the mist of time with many sidebars and I certainly welcome the respite.

Although church officials claim the Saturday protests by activists were only a nuisance and had little to do with ceasing their operation of the hiring center, I don’t regret years of Saturdays gone by.

It all started in 2001 when Cave Creek Town Manager Usama Abujbarah, responding to public pressure, held an impromptu meeting to discuss the illegal alien problem. The meeting included council members, town staff, Sonoran News and two Hispanic activists.
Although Abujbarah asked for candor, recognizing race implications, the first speaker, a member of the town road crew had his head handed to him by the Hispanic activists for identifying illegals as “Mexican.”

Apologies followed and candor went out the window.

Then Vice Mayor Ralph Mozilo’s trial balloon of using the town hall parking lot as a day labor hiring hall was shot down by the assembled group.

editorial cartoon - churchLater, Mozilo came up with the idea of setting up a hiring center at his church, the Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church. The rationale was illegals would be drawn off the streets by the safe haven at the church.

During the past six or so years, numbers of illegals on the streets steadily increased as van loads journeyed up here on a daily basis. “Migrant” camps trespassed in the washes and on the undeveloped Southwest Sands property. Illegals crowded into apartments and vacant homes.

The town, unfortunately, has been a vocal supporter of the church’s activities. As recent as early 2007, Abujbarah was quoted in the Arizona Republic as saying, “From our side as the town’s administration, we think the Episcopal Church is one of the best assets in our community,” and, “Helping the day laborers helps the community.”

In Dec. 2005, I wrote this in My View: “The Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church was outed by Sonoran News several years ago. Not only was the town of Cave Creek illegally using town equipment and employees to print badges for illegals hosted by the church, but also the town purchasing agent was directed to buy food and deliver it to the church to feed illegals.

“The town claimed the church paid $2.50 for each badge, but upon investigation, they hadn’t. A check came from the church the same day we made the request for proof of payment. The town manager then sent a personal check to pay for the food.

“It is doubtful that full payment was made since [the scam] had gone on for months before we exposed the practice.

“Not paid is the cost of the employee who traveled to grocery stores to shop for food and deliver it.”

Such is the nature of corruption, and if the watchdog hadn’t been watching and reporting it would likely still be going on, especially since contemporaneously the town manager praises the illegal activity.

The bigger story though, than the church finally confronting reality, is the now-active employer sanctions law.

Although there has been confusion about whether the law applies retroactively, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has publicly stated, we are told, although we have been unable to find when or where he said it, they will inspect every restaurant in Maricopa County for employing illegal aliens.

Local restaurant owners are reluctant to discuss the issue since most, if not all, have illegals on the payroll. But it is clear, the exodus has started, some initiated by owners and some voluntarily.

The stampede is on now and there is a scramble in most restaurants to clean up their act. Watch for the paddy wagons and ICE uniforms.

The community owes activists a debt of gratitude for giving up their Saturday mornings, and some Sunday mornings as well to protest the illegal activities at the church.

Principal among them were Gary Kiernan, Scott Haberman, Buffalo Rick Galeneer and J-P Maldonado. They were there with their signs of protest and rarely missed a Saturday. They tolerated the extended middle fingers and nasty comments, but were heartened by the honking horns and atta boys which were majority expressions of support.

Others that joined frequently were Joe Gregnani with his loyal dog Buddy, Penny (last name not known), Vice Mayor Gilbert Lopez and Councilman Ernie Bunch, the committee of two who worked with town attorneys to draft the two town ordinances which deal with loitering and regulating the town right-of-way.

Danny Smith and members of American Freedom Riders, Rusty Childress of Riders USA (United for a Sovereign America) and others made frequent visits and were effective in giving state-wide attention to the issue here. Anna Gaines, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico, braved the insults, went to the church parking lot on several occasions, and in their language shamed the day workers for breaking U.S. laws.

The Cave Creek council proved they were willing to risk lawsuits by passing ordinances, which underlined the rule of law.

Thanks to State Rep. Russell Pearce and Don Goldwater for taking time from their busy schedules to appear before town council and support the ordinances.

And last, but by no means least was Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s gutsy enforcement, which emptied the streets almost overnight after Cave Creek proved by passing the two ordinances that we were not a sanctuary town, as are Phoenix and Mesa.

Dan Dooley, who managed the hiring activity, was a gentleman through all this, and unlike others who were involved he was always courteous, friendly and respectful. I hope he can put his considerable talents to use in something more constructive.

And, no thanks to the Arizona Republic which continues to prove they don’t understand the meaning of illegal, the rule of law and national sovereignty by treating the church’s illegal activity as heroism.

May the long program of defiance of law rest in peace.