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Pastor claims government targeted her for ministering to immigrants

SAN DIEGO – A Christian pastor claims in a suit filed in federal court in California Monday that the federal government illegally targeted her for administering her faith to refugees and immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Pastor Kaji Dousa alleges the Trump Administration’s attempts to intimidate, harass, and subject her to covert surveillance – entering her name in a secret database – violated her First Amendment rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

“In this country, the government cannot dictate the people with whom a pastor may pray, to whom she may preach, or for whom she may seek God’s pardon and absolution,” Dousa said in the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.  

Dousa said her faith compelled her to offer ministry to refugees and immigrants traveling from Central America in search of asylum and that the federal government is attempting to infringe on that constitutionally protected action. 

The pastor traveled to Tijuana earlier this year and in 2018 to pray with immigrants and perform various religious services. She has officiated over the weddings of approximately 20 refugees. 

In January 2019, Dousa was on the way back to the U.S. from such a trip when she was detained at the border by agents of various federal agencies – including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

According to the complaint, the agents revealed they had been actively surveilling Dousa while collecting information about her and her work. 

“These officials marked Pastor Dousa for surveillance because she prayed with and for immigrants and because she generated publicity about the devastation that ICE’s enforcement activities rain on immigrants and their families,” the complaint states.

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Dousa said her name has been entered in a secret database along with the names of other activists, journalists and individuals dedicated to the humane treatment of immigrants. The database is called “Operation Secure Line.”

The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately return a request for comment Monday. 

Sousa has been a pastor engaged with immigrant rights for more than 20 years. Before moving to New York City, where she currently resides, she worked in a church in La Mesa, Calif., – about 20 miles from the border.

In addition to her work at the Park Avenue Christian Church in New York, Sousa is the co-chair of New Sanctuary Coalition, a faith-based organization dedicated to advocating for immigrant communities.

The suit was filed by Jaba Tsitsuashvili of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, which is based in Washington D.C. 

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Jul 10, 2019, 6:16 am
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In case you didn’t know. The current migration at our border is costing taxpayers a Kings ransom ($17,000 per day ABC news.) Fleeing persecution? or fleeing for freebies? they sure don’t stay in Mexico when they reach “safety” or ask or offered political asylum in Mexico. Why? because Mexico will give them NOTHING. So they make the long journey to our border, our generous Democrats, and our tax dollars.

We have Democrat / Socialist / Activists in the Northern Triangle of South America & Mexico; even as you read this instructing the populations to make sure you bring your children and use the the magic words…..“credible fear.” Mexico recently arrested two socialist activists who were instrumental in the organizing of prior caravans,

Then you have a Democrat House saying the crisis is “manufactured” as literally thousands attack our border daily? The crisis IS manufactured…by the Democrats themselves. Make no mistake about this, Democrats want this to happen and never stop. They will with hold border security support allowing as many illegal aliens to enter the country as possible overwhelming our BP & ICE before assisting in border security (if ever.)

To Democrats/Socialists programs like Temporary Protective Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA) are permanent programs. There is nothing “temporary or deferred” about these programs to Democrats. These programs are designed to admit refugees (usually from the third world) then Democrats fight to keep them here permanently using the charge of racism, religion, guilt, against anyone opposed. Simple formula works great.

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Bianca Bruno/CNS

Tents and tarps erected in a makeshift camp outside the port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico, where Central Americans wait to have their asylum cases heard by the United States.