In order to avoid future clashes with the citizens of Murrieta, Calif., over attempts to transfer illegal immigrants there, the Obama administration has turned to an unusual bedfellow: the Catholic Church. Deacon Luis Sanchez of the Diocese of San Bernardino tells National Review Online that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent approached the diocese on July 2, 2014, and “expressed his desire for the Church to help in helping these families reach their destination.” Since that time, he says, diocesan officials have spoken on the phone with ICE, and they held a planning meeting on Monday.

John Andrews, the diocese’s director of communications who attended the planning meeting, tells NRO that the idea is to set up “transitional centers” where volunteers and representatives from Catholic Charities would provide food, medical, and spiritual care for families who have been processed at a Border Patrol station. He says he hopes to help the people pushed out of Murrieta, and would need to accommodate 140 people arriving every three days. Andrews says he expects the centers will house mostly mothers and their children for one or two days. But if there’s a situation where a family needs to stay longer than a day or two, he says that placing illegal immigrants with a local family would represent a “very viable option.”

Andrews says several of the parishes within the diocese might be used as part of the plan, but he would not provide details about the locations he disclosed at Monday’s planning meeting. He has withheld such details, he says, because he does not want to invite the “type of folks who gathered in Murrieta to protest” to disrupt their plans. “They [the Murrieta protesters] don’t see the immigrant in the same way we do, which is as a human being that’s created in God’s image with dignity, just like everyone else,” he says.

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