Ex-nun, and leader in the Sanctuary Movement tells a lovely story, but others see it differently

Here we have a glowing piece in the Chapel Hill News about the smiling (former) Sister Darlene Nicgorski who was in Guatemala in the early 1980’s when the local priest was murdered as the civil wars were getting underway and the Communists were trying to take over governments throughout Central America.  Update July 25th, 2014:  The original Chapel Hill News story is gone, but here is another very similar piece.

She escaped back to the US and ultimately helped thousands and thousands of illegal Salvadorans and Guatemalans get across the Mexican border as part of the Sanctuary Movement.  She was convicted in federal court and should have served five years in prison for transporting and harboring illegal aliens, instead she got probation—she says with pride that it was her calling, what she was meant to do.

Jump to last week in Northern Virginia—MS-13 Gang Leader Convicted of Sex Trafficking of a child.   Some would say that her lawbreaking in the 1980s led to this sort of lawbreaking today—that Jose Ciro Juarez-Santamaria is just as much a part of her legacy as is helping some poor peasants intermingled with Communist Sandinista guerrillas to establish new lives in your town.

We now have several hundred thousand illegal Central Americans in the US thanks to Darlene Nicgorski and the Sanctuary Movement.   Press Release from the US Attorney’s Office in Virginia:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Jose Ciro Juarez-Santamaria, 24, an illegal alien from El Salvador, was convicted today of prostituting a 12-year-old female with clients throughout northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge for ICE’s, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington, D.C., made the announcement after the verdict was accepted by United States District Judge Liam O’Grady.

Indicted on May 12, 2011, Juarez-Santamaria was convicted today of conspiracy, sex trafficking, and transportation of a minor for prostitution. He faces a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 28, 2011.

“From the moment he laid eyes on the victim, Juarez-Santamaria did not see a young 12-year-old runaway in need of help,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “He saw a money-making opportunity for him and his gang and began prostituting her the very next day. No child should ever have to suffer what this victim endured, and we will continue to pursue MS-13 and other criminal organizations that prey upon young girls and enslave them through sex trafficking.”

“Forcing girls into prostitution for the purpose of turning a profit is not only criminal, it is intolerable,” said SAC Torres.

Nicgorski, the Sanctuary Movement and the caring class

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on the Sanctuary Movement because thousands of those illegal Salvadorans are in Maryland and indeed CASA de Maryland was created by members of the Sanctuary Movement at the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church in Montgomery County (read about CASA’s founder, Quaker Bette Rainbow Hoover, here).  Recently the Washington Post revealed that CASA’s Director, Gustavo Torres, came to the US after working with the Sandinista Communists in El Salvador.

Nicgorski and others in the illegal movement make it sound like they were helping only the poor peasants escape right-wing death squads.  Surely some were peasants (economic migrants!), others were Leftwing fighters themselves—guerrillas or the ‘intellectual’ ideologues pushing the Communist overthrow of the governments.

The good Catholic nun and her friends took it upon themselves to break the law and get them across the border.   I would recommend that readers with an interest in this topic read, ‘God and Caesar at the Rio Grande’ by Hillary Cunningham for more on the Religious Left and Liberation theology and how they justified breaking the law and planting the seeds of unrest we have in many American cities with the huge illegal alien population today.

From the Chapel Hill News:

The Reagan administration had declared refugees from Central America to be economic migrants, not political refugees, which hindered any legal asylum process under the 1980 Refugee Act. Akin to the Underground Railroad, The Sanctuary Movement was initially started by Tucson residents Jim Corbett, Jim Dudley and John Fife in the early 1980s.

Central Americans would make their way through Mexico to the United States where sympathizers would meet them at the Arizona border and match them with sanctuary communities willing to house and feed them while providing health care and sometimes employment. In exchange, the refugees would discuss their plight with local church and college communities [In other words spread a political message, which many refused to do, much to the consternation of their handlers!—ed]

By the time Nicgorski accepted a paid position in the movement, funded by the Chicago Religious Task Force on Central America, cities such as Chicago and three states – New Mexico, New York, and Wisconsin – had declared themselves public sanctuaries. Her responsibility was to match refugees with appropriate situations.

[By the way, everything did not go smoothly in the so-called Underground.   The Tucson members of  ‘Sanctuary’ argued that any suffering Central American should have an opportunity to get their ‘transportation services’ into the US, but the Catholics from Chicago had a political purity test of sorts and were only looking for their fellow Leftwing “refugees.”]


In 1985, Nicgorksi and 10 others were indicted by a federal grand jury for transporting and harboring illegal aliens. The story made national headlines and Nicgorski was thrown into the spotlight.


“When the trial started in October of 1985 there were 150 sanctuary churches spread throughout the United States,” he said. “By the time the trial was over, there were 350 churches and temples that declared themselves sanctuaries.”

A rude awakening!

The movement pretty well petered out around 1990 partly I am sure because some church leaders and parishioners must have gotten a conscience or at least had a fear of the fact that they were breaking the law.  But, also and this is the part I think is so humorous—they realized that some of these people they had “welcomed” into their communities had some serious problems not to mention the fact that the Salvadorans hated the Guatemalans and vice versa!

From “God and Caesar” (p.66):

While conference participants [they held a National Sanctuary conference in 1985–ed] waded through the intellectual, theological, and organizational ramifications of Sanctuary, the more than three hundred church sanctuaries that had been declared by mid-1987 were dealing with problems of a different order.  Many Sanctuary communities did not know how to handle some of the deep psychological problems refugee family members were manifesting as a result of torture, witnessing massacres, having family members “disappeared,” or leaving children behind.  [not everyone had a horror story although Sanctuary would like you to think that—ed].  Nor did they know how to respond to pervasive domestic violence within the Central American families.  Complex political divisions between and among Salvadorans and Guatemalans had also come across the border, and in some instances severely divided the Central American communities in Sanctuary.

Nicgorski is now collecting her “sanctuary” memorabilia which will surely glorify the movement.  We are left dealing with the likes of CASA de Maryland and its political and financial demands on the citizens of Maryland and watching the Central American “community” produce the Jose Ciro Juarez-Santamaria’s in our cities and towns (soon to be a member of the burgeoning US prison population).

By the way, today El Salvador has its Sandinista (FMLN) president and is one of the ten most dangerous countries in the world, so she and her friends can encourage the Communists to go home now—they got the government they wanted!  Maybe they can start a railroad in reverse and even help them back across the border!