TWO SANCTUARY workers in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, convicted in February of aiding illegal aliens, were sentenced last week by US District Judge Fileman Vela, one to 150 days in a halfway house arll the other to 179 days in prison.
Jack Elder, the director of Case Oscar Romero in San Benito, rejected an offer for probation that would have restricted his activities in the sanctuary movement.
Mr Elder was sentenced to concurrent one-year terms on each of six counts, including conspiring to help two Salvadorans enter the country illegally, actually helping the two enter the county, and transporting them to a bus station in 14arlingen. He could have been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Later, the sentence was reduced from one year to 150 days after the judge had consulted with defence and prosecution lawyers.
Stacey Lynn Merkt, a volunteer at the same Catholic Church-sponsored shelter who was tried with Mr Elder last month, was sentenced to 179 days in prison for her conviction of conspiring to help the Salvadorans enter the country illegally. She could have received a five-year sentence.
Although the US government has classified almost all Central Americans as economic refugees, sanctuary workers continue to say that Central Americans are fleeing violence ill their homelands and should be granted political asylum.
The Franciscan Fathers in the United States announced last Friday that they would continue to offer sanctuary to refugees.