(JTA) — A Jewish woman is among several people reportedly running a safe house in California for a Mexican woman who is illegally in the United States.
The Jewish woman initiated the illegal apartment after hearing in her synagogue of a Mexican family’s plight, according to a CNN report Thursday. A Baptist minister and a Catholic Latino family are helping in the effort to hide the woman, who does not have staying permits, and her two teenage daughters living with her. The woman was not named to prevent authorities from going after her, the report said.
The Jewish woman signed the lease for the apartment, which is located in a suburban middle-class neighborhood.
She came to harbor the family after hearing at her synagogue about an interfaith network helping undocumented immigrants. A fellow congregant approached her about “a service opportunity.”
The network, LA Voice, was launched following the election of President Donald Trump, who has ordered stricter enforcement action on undocumented immigrants. It is headed by the Rev. Zachary Hoover and includes several Los Angeles synagogues.
The father of the family staying in the Jewish woman’s apartment was deported in 2017. His relatives told CNN he voluntarily came to immigration authorities in a bid to regulate his status but was sent back. His daughters were born in the United States. But their mother is an illegal alien.
The Jewish woman who signed the lease for the safe house wears a gold Star of David pendant and earrings inscribed in Hebrew. One reads “I am nothing but ashes.” The other says “The whole world was made for me.”
“The earrings remind me to take up the right amount of space in this world,” the woman told CNN. “Not too much, but not too little.”
For the woman, the link from the present to the history of World War II is strong, she told CNN.
“I grew up in the time where the Holocaust was not so far behind me,” the woman said. “There was always that awareness as a Jew that it’s possible to be kicked out of a country where people thought they were home. And many of those people didn’t make it.”
In a statement, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, “Knowingly harboring an alien is a federal crime.”
ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez continued: “ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”