Lawsuit accuses anti-immigrant groups of harassing churches that aid migrants

Lawsuit accuses anti-immigrant groups of harassing churches that aid migrants
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Two anti-immigrant groups in Arizona were hit with a federal lawsuit Tuesday for allegedly harassing churches that aid immigrant families.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the churches, alleging that members of Patriot Movement AZ and AZ Patriots violated the church’s civil rights and defamed the pastors of the churches, according to the Associated Press.

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The lawsuit, brought in conjunction with the churches and pastors, alleges the groups accused the church leaders of bringing in immigrants for sex and human trafficking. The lawsuit also says members of the groups trespassed on private property and secretly recorded immigrant children playing inside the church.

The Hill has reached out to both groups for comment on the lawsuit.

Angel Campos, a pastor at Iglesia Monte Vista in Phoenix, told the AP that the harassment from the group forced him to buy video surveillance equipment to keep the church safe and also dissuaded volunteers from helping at the church.

“As a human being, it’s horrible to go to sleep and to keep one eye open because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Campos said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asked the churches to step in and aid immigrant families amid waning resources at the agency, according to the AP. ICE authorities brought families to the churches and other non-profit groups for shelter, food and other resources.

The far-right Patriot Movement AZ group is also accused of showing up at Rep. Ruben Gallego's (D-Ariz.) house and protesting his stance on immigration.