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U. St. Thomas L.J.


This Article will discuss “Operation Sojourner,” the federal government’s covert infiltration, and subsequent criminal prosecution, of persons involved in the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s, as well as its impact on the modern Sanctuary Movement in Arizona and the Southwest occurring in response to the current Central American refugee crisis. Section I will provide an overview of the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s, and the general religious beliefs and philosophies of those involved in the movement. Section II will discuss the genesis of Operation Sojourner by the former Immigration and Nationality Service (INS) in the early 1980s, and the criminal prosecutions of members of the Sanctuary Movement in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. Section III will discuss one of the most high-profile cases that resulted from Operation Sojourner, United States v. Aguilar, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding the defendants’ convictions for conspiracy and harboring and transporting aliens. Section IV will discuss the current Central American refugee crisis and the litigation that has been filed on their behalf challenging the Obama Administration’s policy of detaining families seeking asylum on the U.S.-Mexico border. Finally, the Article will conclude with Section V, which makes an argument about the need for a revitalized Sanctuary Movement in churches, homes, and schools in response to the government’s overzealous enforcement of immigration law now and in the new administration of President Donald Trump.