`john Henry Faulk faced the bastards and beat them down” STUDS TERKEL rs, 4 ohro Hen ry FEAR ON TRIAL By JOHN HENRY FAULK Noted humorist and radiotelevision personality John Henry Faulk recounts his own six harrowing years on the blacklist during the McCarthy era, his historic libel suit against the ultrapatriotic group AWARE, and Louis Nizer’s relentless expose of the blacklist for what it was. ” . . . a vivid remembrance of things not too far past, almost unbelievable things that . . . may not really be past at all.” NEWSWEEK . . a great moment in the history of American civil liberties.” GORE VIDAL $7.95 paperback Write for a free catalog of books Now in bookstores i t m e Or order postpaid from University of Texas Press BOX 7819 AUSTIN, TEXAS 78713 Pho to by Alan Pog ue violations and the issuing of the indictment. The government had to pursue this case. The INS, which considers most of the would-be immigrants “economic” refugees, has long held the Sanctuary Movement in disdain. Richard Casillas, regional INS director in San Antonio, went so far as to accuse the Catholic Church of abetting anarchy because it was willfully violating immigration laws. Official disapproval, however, has seldom been translated into action. Border Patrol agents have even been known to bring refugees to Casa Romero. “Our main objective is the wellorganized, well-funded operator who moves hundreds of aliens every day,” said Silvestre Reyes, chief patrol agent in the Patrol’s McAllen sector. “We’re not in a position to target anybody from the so-called Sanctuary Movement.” None of those who gathered behind Casa Romero for a rally on a hot, windy day shortly after the new indictments came down believes that anymore. Many had come from far away New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco to reaffirm their support of Elder, Merkt, and a movement they feel is under attack from elle just re-installed Reagan administration. “The Administration might be thinking this is a good time to try a few cases selectively to show there’s no broad base of support for the movement across the country,” said San Francisco sanctuary worker Steve Knapp. “We’re here to assure them that is not the case.” Though the movement has often been likened to the underground railroad of pre-abolition days, its work has been anything but secretive. Caravans containing Salvadorans and Guatemalans have crossed the country without fearing publicity. Those churches that have declared themselves sanctuaries have not been reluctant to admit it. “This kind of outrageous behavior [by the Border Patrol] would be out of the question in Tucson,” said Jim Corbett, the famed “Quaker Coyote” and one of the movement’s founders. “It’s clear they’re targeting refugee services in the Valley.” The most pointed criticism of the government’s actions has come from an increasingly vocal source, Bishop John Fitzpatrick, the soft-spoken, gray-haired leader of the Brownsville diocese, which owns Casa Romero. “It looks like a conspiracy on the part of the government to nail these people.” Fitzpatrick said. “They weren’t just caught. There was an organized effort, a plan, to get them. This is a case of selective prosecution.” Stacey Merkt Fitzpatrick used $27,500 of personal funds to bail Merkt and Elder out of jail. Without his intervention, Dianne Elder confided, her husband and Merkt would have remained in jail. Contrary to a popular perception, Merkt, Elder, and the other sanctuary workers do not consider their acts civil disobedience because they believe the refugees have a legal right to be here. Their arguments are based on their interpretation of the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980, the United Nations Protocols on Refugees, and the Geneva Conventions. Pragmatically, of course, they know the government has a different interpretation \(not to mention little intention of changing its Central Amerireason it may be impossible for Merkt and Elder to honor one of the conditions set for their release that they refrain from committing illegal acts. Whether they aspire to martyrdom or not, prison may be their inevitable destination. Neither Elder nor Merkt has spoken about the charges since their release, when U.S. Magistrate William Mallett put a gag order on all parties to the case. But both issued statements following the indictments. Merkt’s words suggest no potential for compromise between the movement and the government: “What motivates me to help people and to work for justice is my belief in a God of life and love . . . I will persist. We United States citizens will have no excuse. We will not be able to say, ‘I never saw, I never heard, I never knew,’ that we set a house on fire and locked the door.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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