SB1070: Take illegal immigrant to church, get arrested?

Is it possible to get arrested for driving an illegal immigrant to a church service under Arizona law SB1070? This is what E. J. Montini proposes at The Arizona Republic in his article Church, state clash coming under SB 1070. Montini begins:

“The first person arrested under SB 1070 might not be an illegal immigrant, but your pastor.”


“Among other things, SB 1070 makes it a crime to knowingly transport, harbor, conceal or shield an illegal immigrant if you do so while committing a separate criminal offense.”


“If a church bus or van has a broken taillight or makes an illegal U-turn – in other words, commits a separate criminal offense – while illegal immigrants are onboard, it’s possible the driver could be charged.”

I am not an attorney nor do I play one online I do not know how possible this scenario may be. As the old adage goes – anything is possible. The Arizona section of The Unofficial DMV Guide it states:

“Chances are good that you know when you are doing something worthy of a criminal penalty. These violations fall into two categories: misdemeanors, such as reckless driving or DUI, and felonies, such as not stopping when a peace officer commands you to pull over.”

If indeed the law is not clear on what constitutes a criminal penalty this becomes an even tougher issue. Yet, the article in question explains that SB1070 says if one knowingly assists an illegal immigrant that charges may come. I suppose if someone on the way to church knowingly stopped at a convenience store for their passenger quickly rob the store would also be charged as an accessory. Most people are not in the habit of asking friends and acquaintances if they recently committed a crime or have some sort of an illegal status.

A larger issues, as Montini notes, is found in a lawsuit against SB1070 “based on the notion that the law inhibits First Amendment freedom to worship.” Is this a First Amendment issues which states in part:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

As long as there is a law deeming certain immigration statuses as illegal I’m not sure how this violates the First Amendment. It would seem if this were the case that no person who commits an illegal act could be arrested while on their way to a religious worship service.

And Christians?

Despite the potential legalities, how should Christians think and act about illegal immigrants? Should Christians knowingly aid illegal immigrants? Should we have a don’t ask don’t tell policy? What should be done if someone is found out to be in the U.S. illegally?

If the illegals are Christians should they be encouraged to obey the law and return to their country? Or, if we don’t agree with the law should it just be ignored? How far should Christians go?

Considering the human element involved these are not easy questions to answer. I’d love to hear some reflections on these issues.

What do you think?

Let's connect!

tagged as , in Church Issues,Culture,morality,relativism

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Benito June 24, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

2 Mark June 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm


Are you saying you are not in favor of SB1070? How about the Federal immigration laws which some have claimed SB1070 actually falls in line with?

How should those who live on the border be treated? Is it right for their property to be used and abused via littering, theft, as a through way, etc.? Do they not have intellectual and individual property rights?

The rights of some of these property owners on the border are diminished. Does this mean the rights of all are threatened? Do the ones creating these problems which their property to be treated like wise?

How does is follow that because this Nation was founded in a particular way that we should not have the immigration laws we have today? (If that is what you are saying.)

3 SirBrass June 24, 2010 at 11:55 pm

The allegations that a person driving a person (who they know is an illegal immigrant) to church could be arrested is highly unlikely. For the first thing, Christians are charged with obeying the law in so far as the law does not command them to violate biblical commands. A person who is an illegal immigrant has knowingly trespassed onto this country’s soil. A Christian who takes the book of Romans seriously will admonish this person to return to their country of origin and immigrate LEGALLY. A Christian, I would say, would even be doing good in assisting this person in that person in immigrating if they can. However, to knowingly shelter and hide illegal immigrants from the lawful authorities (who are not trying to kill them or round them up into concentration camps or anything else resembling the road to Nazi Germany’s Final Solution) is to be refusing to obey Scripture’s commands to obey those in authority over you.

I do NOT think your hypothetical scenario is at all realistic.

Remember also, those who populated this country immigrated LEGALLY. For illegal SQUATTERS to claim that same pioneering ancestry is an insult and pure historical revisionism at it’s finest (lowest).

Not to mention that SB1070 does not just merely CLAIM to mirror federal immigration law, it DOES mirror federal immigration law. This is a fact as objective as saying “The sky is blue.” It is not merely a CLAIM that the sky is blue, it IS blue. Same with 1070 mirroring federal immigration law. Of course, this administration doesn’t LIKE federal immigration law but also knows that they can’t pass repeals of it through congress so they’re doing it the Chicago way: bullying. Problem, though: We Arizonans expected to be bullied by an administration that has no regard for the actual rule of law, and our legislature wrote the bill so as to be airtight. The only way for us to really lose is for Obama’s administration (thugs in suits) to do an end run around congress in broad daylight for the entire country to see. And I can just see the smack-down the Supreme Court (even with a LaRaza-owned justice) would deliver for that attempt.

There are all sorts of biblical precedents which back the intent and wording of SB1070 in regards to nations being actual nations and charged with protecting its lands and people from foreign invaders. The image the mainstream media is feeding you of the average border trespasser is incorrect. Most are not Jose and Maria with little baby Paco trying to find a better life. They are drug smugglers, human traffickers, sex slave pimps hauling their wares (a despicable subset of human traffickers worse than the rest of their fellow slime), drug mules, Mexican military guard units, and even OTM (other than Mexicans) terrorists from the Sudan and other places. Most of those sneaking across even already have PRIOR criminal convictions here in the US. And yet we are being told by the White House that protecting our border from these villains is wrong. WRONG. There is everything WRONG in denying us the ability to defend ourselves against these folks, and plenty of biblical mandate in our right and duty to defend against them.

4 BaptistThinker June 25, 2010 at 12:07 am

Believers are required by Scripture to obey the laws of the land, so long as those laws do not violate Scripture. I do not believe that this law violates Scripture in any sense. Therefore, it logically follows that I must therefore follow this law, should I reside the state of Arizona. However, were I working in a church in Arizona, I do not think it would be right or proper for me to inquire as to the citizenship of any person attending my church, and/or their immigrant status. Were I to hire that person however, I must follow the law and check on their citizenship/immigration status. Furthermore, I do not see a problem with aiding an illegal immigrant with matters like food or shelter. I do see a problem with hiding an illegal immigrant.
Again, we are to obey the authorities, as is commanded by Scripture. I am not free to disobey them unless their commands violate Scripture.

5 rosemarie June 25, 2010 at 12:09 am

Mark- The trouble with laws is that even when we write them but we really don’t like them because we cannot consider every contingency. It has been my experience that a Sgt I worked with was right on the money when he said, “more people go to jail for bad manners (aka:contempt of cop) than the infractions they commit.” There is all sorts of speculation we can do about AZ’s law and how it will be enforced. Could a pastor go to jail for transporting illegal immigrants to a church service? Sure- it’s possible. Especially if the pastor has been warned and/or is playing games with the officers. Lots of men claim Christ that behave like they have never met Him. Meanwhile cops have their individual agendas and there may be a few who take full advantage of this law but trust me when I tell you that officers have more to do than lay in wait for pastors evangelizing illegals and transporting them to church services. The likelihood of a well meaning but ignorant pastor being locked up is way, way slim. Look at it logically, intent would still have to be proven. Many illegals have been here so long that their English is perfect and they are culturally American. How could you know if they weren’t? I am betting you know folks who aren’t here legally and you may not be aware of it.

That being said, cops in every city and state in our Republic can find probable cause to pull someone over in a New York minute. Our deputies called it, “probably cause.” The real question is do they want the people in the van on their way to church for something else? If so, they will find a way to pull them over. A favorite cop tactic is to cite someone on a minor traffic violation hoping they will not pay the fine or they fail to appear to a court date. That way a warrant is issued and if the cops had something they were working on with that individual as a suspect, but not enough to hold on to them… the warrant gives the the probable cause to pull them over anytime they want to. There are plenty of ways to get their targets without using this law, but might they use it? You bet.

6 abclay June 25, 2010 at 12:53 am

As a Christian, we are to obey the laws of the land. We are not to violate these laws unless they go against scripture (the highest law). One does not have to violate the Arizona Law in order to share the Gospel with an Illegal Alien. It’s really that simple.

When I hear someone using religion in a political argument, it’s hardly ever about religion, and all about pushing a political agenda. I’ve been guilty of this in the past and I try to make sure and keep the two separate when discussing either of them.

As an example, you have probably heard: “Jesus was a liberal”. This isn’t pushing a religious viewpoint, but a political one.

7 SirBrass June 25, 2010 at 2:34 am


Another thing to consider. The law is very specific here about cause that can be used for a LEO to ask about a person’s immigration status. They will have to have a legit reason to have pulled someone over to avoid a charge from others that the cop did so b/c of the person’s ethnicity, which is strictly forbidden and which the governor has said will not be tolerated (with the whole nation looking on, I doubt any police chiefs will tolerate some shenanigans from from their cops on this matter). Is that going to be unfair to cops? In certain circumstances, I think so, especially in areas where there are known to be race-baiter (or race-baiting city governments…. like that of our own dear (-ly despised) Mayor Phil Gordon).

But as you said, cops have far better things to do than lie in wait for some pastor to be transporting illegals.

Also, I don’t think cops would cite anyone just trying to aid an illegal by giving aid (such as food and water) as that is what AZ LEOs and US Border Patrol do themselves when they catch these folk in the desert. Many of them are tired, hungry, thirsty and in need of aid. It’s given to them. In many ways, it is a kindness to these people when they’re caught, as generally if they are being smuggled in by coyotes, they will essentially be held in abject hidden slavery while here b/c of the debt they owe to these smugglers. When our sheriff’s dept. busts these drop houses, the reports that come out usually reveal the squallor and essential captivity these folks are held in.

In that instance, it might even be said to be the kindest thing one could do if one knows of a drop house to then report it. The law treats these folks (the ones who are not otherwise criminals who were just seeking a better life and knew they couldn’t have one in Mexico BECAUSE of the color of their skin) better before shipping them back. The ones who fear the police enough to put up a fight are the ones who we ought to lock up for a long, long time anyway.

8 chris June 28, 2010 at 7:17 pm

The law is unconstitutional, common sense.

9 Benito June 29, 2010 at 5:43 pm

“All Men are created equal”! The founders had it right, when attempting to form a perfect union and they also knew that they were not there yet but knew we one day would get there. Lincoln moved us forward as did JFK and LBJ. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

It is my contention that this AZ law is not constitutional and will fail when challenged (unless, of course, they keep adding more amendments), pretty funny for this so called perfect law, that many internet bloggers claim it was copied “Word for Word” from the Federal law, which I frankly do not believe, if it was then no amendments would have been made, right?, of course, keep those lies coming.

As for the undocumented workers, as was attributed to Ronald Reagan “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. When the economy is good we say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. This too will pass, the real problem is the narcos, arms and people smugglers and that’s what the focus should be on.

Don’t you find it funny that no one ever voted for Brewer for Governor, she is trying to get elected on the back of undocumented workers, it’s all about politics, do not be fooled. In the last few months Busy Brewer has passed S.B. 1070, no permit conceal weapons law, the famous Birthers law, banning Ethnic studies law, (could she be behind the Mural in Prescott, Arizona) and if history is a lesson and if she can read, she should look up Arizona’s House Bill 2779 from two years ago (which failed when legally challenged) and the craziest one the boycott of Martin Luther King Day, not wanting another holiday, how crazy is that. I believe there is an undercurrent to their enactment of new laws, they real love following a distinct pattern. Poor Brewer, in an attempt to gain sympathy, in an interview she first said her father had died in Germany fighting the Nazi in World War II (which ended 1945) and we find out her father was never in Germany and died in California in 1955 (watch her play the victim card, again) and then she went to Washington and came back empty as always, poor dear.

10 BaptistThinker June 29, 2010 at 6:39 pm

In the face of such attacks, how can SB 1070 stand up?

Well, the fact is, that Benito has played a card which has shown his entire hand. He hasn’t read the law. Benito, what does SB 1070 accept as proof of citizenship? How many times does SB 1070 quote Federal Law and refer to Federal Law? How many Federal Laws are referred to in SB 1070? Who may investigate whether or not a person is a citizen of the United States? When may law enforcement officials make inquiries as to the citizenship of an individual? What parts of this law are unconstitutional? What parts of this bill violate Federal Law?

Illegal immigrants are in violation of Federal Law, and if they are Christians, they are in violation of God’s Law, which is much more worrisome. I believe that illegal immigrants should be treated fairly, and should be helped, but they should not be allowed to remain in the country and be enslaved by political parties(yes, both Republican and Democrat) as pawns in a political chess game. I believe that illegal immigrants are used by both political parties as a means to an end. They are treated unfairly, and are trapped in a form of modern-day slavery because they are unable to get jobs that pay decent wages because of their immigration status. Legal Immigration and a change of immigration laws is the only way to combat this situation.

Furthermore, ad hominem attacks against the Governor of Arizona are irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

11 Benito June 30, 2010 at 11:58 pm

It is my contention that this AZ law is not constitutional and will fail when challenged (unless, of course, they keep adding more amendments), pretty funny for this so called perfect law, that many internet bloggers claim it was copied “Word for Word” from the Federal law, which I frankly do not believe, if it was then no amendments would have been made, right?, of course, keep those lies coming.

Do you real believe that this law is constitutional? Thats the real question that you conveniently avoid.

I would love to hear you thoughts on the “Trinity Baptist Church” incident.

12 Henry July 1, 2010 at 3:48 am

We are a country of law’s. It is not leagle to climb a fence or dig a tunnel to be a citizen. We have leagle way’s for citizenship. Are we to open all borders with no reguard to who comes in? Is there a shortage of possible terrorist’s we need to fill ?
Maybe all men are created equal but that is thru God’s eye’s. I hope Your preacher is not the same as a person that would blow himself up to kill others.
Our country is so in debt we will be in the red for year’s. So go ahead and support simi slave labor. I’m 60 so maybe I will not be here when we have a total socialist country. The DC politicians only think of the now what’s in it for ME here and now! Who cares what kind of country we leave our children we will be dead But, we died rich! Protect our country by upholding our law’s. If it takes 25,000 national guard send them where they are needed. They can pass out bottles of water and point the way south.

13 jae July 2, 2010 at 2:23 am

These people are also children of God, to be a good Samaritan for these people that we don’t know is a DEMAND from God Himself. Try to put yourself in their shoes…you are in a poor country with no future for you and your family and if they have to fall in line we all know it would take like at least 15 to 20 years waiting (I know this because many of my friends who petitioned their family members are still back in the 90’s).

At the end they are already here right IN FRONT of us, suffering! a questio remains, what would a true follower of Christ DO?


14 NEAF July 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm

How come people don’t understand it is a federal law. If people don’t like it (for whatever reason) then request to change it.

Without any doubt this country was build with immigrants. THEN, the federal government passed a law to prevent ILLEGALS immigrants. If any one wants to come to this country, NO PROBLEM. Just apply for a visa. I cannot take an airplane and fly to any part of the world without permit. So, why can’t we enforce our laws?

15 NEAF July 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm

No one is arguing about if they are or not son of God. That is not the question and that is not that problem. The problem is they are ILLEGALS immigrants and they are braking a federal law!

And NO, I can’t be on their shoes. What about if they put them self on my shoes? They are reaping the benefits of tax payers (income taxes). The only taxes they pay is sales taxes. So, are you asking me to break a federal law? Just because been a Samaritan? What about all the other hundred of thousand of legal immigrants that need our help? Don’t you rather help those that are trying. Life is not easy, is not even fair. Are you going to reward those who brake the law? “Give to Cesar (government) what belong to him… WWJD? I don’t know. But Jesus said; I came not to break the Law, but to fulfill the Law. Laws were made by God and Moises. Which one are you going to break today?

What about if we pray for all those people that are trying to cross the border (any border) that God give them the wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and strength to be able to turn their country around. Fight for their own country, instead of running away. For how long the Israelites have been fighting for the promise land?

16 NEAF July 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm

The Arizona law, Unconstitutional? What about the “Obama Care”? Constitutional? What about spreading the wealth? Your wealth. Constitutional? What about the second amendment? Unconstitutional? The right to bare arm, voted 5-4. Almost fail! Unconstitutional? We live in an imperfect world. Ruled by imperfect people with imperfect laws.

The problem is not the Arizona Law, is the federal government not doing his job. On 2007 president Bush tried to pass a immigration reform. And guess what happened? Guess who blocked the bill? The same congress (have been in power for the last 6 years) and now is trying to pass this new immigration reform.
Is the government really trying to help the illegals immigrants or just buying new votes for the 2012 presidential elections? Guess who is behind this?, SEIU.

17 NEAF July 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Every time I travel to another country, I have to carry with me 24-7 my proper identifications with the visa. I don’t complain, I comply with the law. The government on those countries don’t play around. They will put you in jail.


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