Buffalo Churches Open Doors for Immigrants From Restaurant Raid

Some Buffalo clergymen are offering their churches as sanctuary for the employees arrested during the Immigration and Customs Enforcement at four local Mexican restaurants last week. Time Warner Cable News reporter Rebecca Vogt has the story.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As some 25 workers await their fate in Buffalo Immigration Court Tuesday, Pastor Drew Ludwig said they do not exactly have homes they can go back to or feel safe in.

"Doors were kicked in, things were turned over,” said Ludwig. “They're still continuing patrols in their neighborhood."

They were arrested last Tuesday as part of an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on four Erie County Mexican Restaurants. The owner of the establishments, plus two other men, are accused of illegally harboring people in the U.S.

Ludwig and several other pastors are coming together to allow workers and their families shelter in their churches in the meantime. One individual has already stayed the night.

"Some of them were detained, others were released formally,” said Rev. Matt Lincoln. “It's legal and safe for them to be out on their own, but they're totally on their own."

When asked why they have opened up their churches, the pastors simply replied it all stems back to the some of the earliest Biblical teachings.

"We are called to love our neighbors,” said Ludwig. “We are with our neighbors, advocating for our neighbors."

This is not the first showing of solidarity for the workers. Thursday, patrons and employees of one of the affected restaurants, Don Tequila, rallied with labor activists outside the storefront.

Lincoln says the churches are not hiding them from the law.

"They are obligated to respond to federal officials,” said Lincoln. “If they come, they're known. Their whereabouts are known."

Lincoln and Ludwig add there needs to be a shift in discussion regarding the people affected.

"[For] so many people, the conversation was, 'Where am I going to get my Mexican food?'” said Ludwig. “[But there are] people that don't know if they're going to be safe when they go to bed at night. That is a far greater concern than where we're going to get our tacos."

Spectrum customers get full access
to all our video, including our live stream.