Jack Elder

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Jack Elder

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Jack Elder was a prominent member of the Sanctuary Movement, described by the Los Angeles Times in 1985 as "a network of 200 U.S. churches that ignore laws and provide refuge to Salvadorans and Guatemalans."[1] He has been volunteering at the Catholic Worker House since the mid 1980's according to a 2017 profile at FOLO Media.[2]

He co-founded RAICES with Stacey Merkt in the mid-eighties.

Casa Oscar Romero

In the 1980s Jack Elder was director of Casa Oscar Romero, sponsored by the Brownsville Roman Catholic Diocese. "During this time he was arrested twice for transporting refugees from Central America."

Convicted on Six Counts of Conspiracy

The Sanctuary Movement was about Politics, not Migrants
Jack Elder Arrest

Verbatim from a 1985 LA Times article"[3]

"A federal jury today convicted Sanctuary Movement worker Jack Elder on six counts of conspiracy, bringing illegal aliens to the United States and transporting them through south Texas.
"The jury also found Elder's co-worker, Stacey Merkt, guilty of conspiracy, but acquitted her on two charges of illegally transporting Salvadoran refugees.
"Elder and Merkt showed no emotion when the verdicts were read. The jury of 10 men and two women had deliberated four hours over two days before returning the verdicts.
"Elder faces up to 30 years in prison and $28,000 in fines, and Merkt could be sentenced to five years and fined $10,000. She also faces revocation of her probation on an earlier conviction.
"March 27 Sentencing
"Judge Filemon Vela set a March 27 sentencing hearing.
"The defense promised an appeal, and Elder said he will continue his efforts to help Salvadorans flee to the United States.
""I'm proud that I am following the best traditions of my faith and our country," Elder said.
""I don't know whether to cry or to yell about the injustices both here and there," Merkt said, referring to El Salvador. "I believe it is time to yell. I will persevere. It's inconceivable that I was convicted when I am innocent."
"U.S. Atty. Dan Hedges said he hoped Sanctuary workers "would already be weary of breaking the law. We've always treated them the same as we've treated anyone else and we're going to continue treating them as we're treating everyone else."
"200-Church Network
"The Sanctuary Movement is a network of 200 U.S. churches that ignore laws and provide refuge to Salvadorans and Guatemalans.
"Elder and Merkt are employees of Casa Oscar Romero, a border shelter at San Benito, Tex., for Central Americans that is sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville.
"Elder was acquitted last month on charges that he transported three Salvadorans in March, 1984. Jurors agreed with defense arguments that Elder did not further the Salvadorans' movement into the United States by merely giving them a ride to a bus station.

Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Jack Elder

Jack Elder was a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, (VVAW) according to the Spring, 1984 edition of the VVAW newsletter, The Veteran:[4]

"Observing the plight of political refugees from El Salvador one gets an inkling. The death squads in El Salvador are as ruthless and bold as any predator in Nazi Germany. Killing, torturing and kidnapping are their stock in trade. Their victims' crimes range from teaching "The Sermon on the Mount" (these anti-communist goons claim that teaching anyone that "the meek shall inherit the earth" is socialist) to organizing trade unions. They work with impunity, able to kill and rape American nuns, assassinate American AID workers, and murder a Catholic bishop during mass. Eighteen thousand people a year are killed by these authoritarian friends of the Reagan Administration, with Congress voting them more money every year.
"Not all Americans are silent or inactive, Jack Elder among them. Jack, a member of VVAW served in Vietnam with the Special Forces, seeing firsthand the agony visited on hapless peasants in that country. Returning home he worked in the Peace Corps and with a variety of social agencies trying to rescue people from war and suffering. His arrest and coming trial by the U.S. government raises questions for all of us. Most of us would like to believe we would shelter and hide Jews from the Gestapo, had that choice come to us; Jack did that for the victims marked by Salvadoran hit men. His actions and selflessness, and that of his family speak for themselves. Our own actions will have to speak still for the rest of us. It is imperative that we support the people on trial for aiding refugees, and that we bring every possible pressure to stop our government from supporting the fascists in El Salvador. It's a moral question and it has both a precedent and an answer.

References

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