Oral history interview with Jenny Beatty

In 1983, Jenny Beatty was 21 years old and coordinator of the 18 month sanctuary of “Rogelio and Maria Gonzalez” (assumed names to protect their identity) and their four children in Madison, Wisconsin. The "Gonzalez" journey for sanctuary was due to the military dictatorships in Guatemala and El Salvador that perpetrated horrific human rights abuses on their populations forcing tens of thousands of people to flee. Jenny recounts her experiences coordinating the “Gonzalez” family’s sanctuary in Madison including being part of the 4 car caravan that took the family to permanent exile in Canada.

  • Identifier: madarc-006
    Narrator Name: Jenny Beatty
    Interviewer Name: Joan Laurion
    Date of interview: 1/20/2023

    [00:00:00] Introductions
    [00:01:16] Jenny’s family background in relation to the Sanctuary Movement
    [00:03:10] Meeting the Gonzalez family, a refugee family from Guatemala
    [00:05:26] Political context that gave rise to the Sanctuary Movement in the US
    [00:07:54] Killings by government and military forces in El Salvador, with US support
    [00:10:58] Salvadorans and Guatemalans fleeing their homelands and seeking refuge
    [00:11:48] Grassroots beginnings of Sanctuary Movement across the US
    [00:15:41] Creation of the Madison Sanctuary Movement in 1983
    [00:20:36] How Jenny got involved and became coordinator of site two in Madison
    [00:24:26] The Gonzalez family’s housing, daily activities, and speaking engagements
    [00:28:06] Taking the Gonzalez family into hiding and moving them to church grounds
    [00:30:53] Moving the Gonzalez family out of Madison, towards Canadian citizenship
    [00:35:28] Impact of Rogelio and Maria Gonzalez sharing their family’s story in Madison
    [00:38:50] Jenny Beatty’s sanctuary work outside of Madison
    [00:41:02] Motivations and approaches to providing Sanctuary


    [00:00:00] Introductions
    Interviewer: Good morning. I'm Joan Laurion. I'm in Madison, Wisconsin, today on January 20, 2023, and I'm interviewing Jenny Beatty for the MASCP Living History Project. Good morning, Jenny.

    Jenny Beatty: Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to be interviewed.

    Interviewer: Oh, thank you for participating. It's a huge honor. So Jenny and I are online. Jenny, tell us where you are and briefly introduce yourself. And then we'll get on with some questions about your role in the Sanctuary Movement in Madison during the 1980s.

    Jenny Beatty: Yeah. So, my name is Jenny Beatty. And I was born and mostly raised in Madison, and left partway through college, and then returned to finish college at UW. After graduating from UW, I left Madison again and I was gone from town for 28 years. And then I returned again. And so I'm again living in Madison, and I'm being interviewed today from my home in Madison.

    Interviewer: So Jenny, can you briefly explain what was the Sanctuary Movement about? Why was it happening in the early 1980s? And how did the Madison Sanctuary site number two operate -- how did it get started?

    [00:01:16] Jenny’s family background in relation to the Sanctuary Movement
    Jenny Beatty: Sure. I just want to begin by saying that I had returned to Madison to finish college, like I said, after having been out of town for a couple of years. And it was shortly after my return that my mother called me up and said, "You know, you need to come over. We're having people over at the house and a family is coming. It's a refugee family from Guatemala, and we want you to be here." And that's how I met the Gonzalez family, who had already arrived in Madison very recently at that time. And partly -- of course, my family raised us with a social consciousness and was active, through some community groups and church groups, with other refugees before this, including refugees who came from the Vietnam War to settle in the Madison and Wisconsin area. So it wasn't a surprising thing to me to have my mother be involved in this; and then I was asked because my own interests but also because I'm fluent in Spanish.

    So, I just need to include a little bit of my family history here. Again, I was born and raised in Madison with my sisters. And as a family, we moved and lived in Brazil, southern Brazil, for several years, while my dad had a professorship exchange between University of Wisconsin and the University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. And I was quite young at the time. And then we returned to Madison. And then, when I was in high school, I was an exchange student through American Field Service, AFS. And I lived in the nation of Colombia for a year. And I had studied Spanish for many years, and I studied it also at the college level. So I was very, very, very fluent Spanish.

    [00:03:10] Meeting the Gonzalez family, a refugee family from Guatemala
    Jenny Beatty: So when my mother invited me over and my younger sister, who was also in college at that time, we arrived and met the family. And it was a young couple with four small children. The youngest was an infant of about four months old.

    And the other three were ages five, four, and about two-and-a-half. And so my sister and I took the younger kids downstairs in the basement to our playroom from childhood with [inaudible] and played with the children. While upstairs, the adults were meeting and hearing the story of the Gonzalez family with other members of our church, which I'll talk about in a minute. One of the most memorable things from that meeting is we were playing with the children, and we were drawing drawings, and one of the children drew a picture showing helicopters shooting at people on the ground. And he said, "Police shoot people." Now, in 2023, Americans can relate to that, because we've been educated by Black Americans and many others about what our police do here in this country now.

    But to me, in 1984, that was a foreign concept to me that police would shoot civilians indiscriminately. And this is even after I had lived in Latin America. And it was shocking that a four-year-old -- this was a four-year-old's experience. So that was very powerful. So I knew that I wanted to be involved. I befriended the young couple from Guatemala who went by pseudonyms, Rogelio and Maria Gonzalez, and that was for their protection and safety. They were a little bit older than me. But we became friends.

    And to just give you -- so that's my personal introduction to the Sanctuary Movement.

    [00:05:26] Political context that gave rise to the Sanctuary Movement in the US
    Jenny Beatty: And why did this happen in the late 1970s, and then into the 1980s. One important thing that people need to remember is it matters who your president is. Up until 1980, our president was Jimmy Carter. Financial aid and military aid from the United States to these nations was cut off, or limited, or contingent on reducing human rights abuses, which were rampant under these military dictatorships. But with the change of the presidency in the United States, with Ronald Reagan taking office in January of 1981, that all changed. And one way or another, by hook or by crook, the Reagan administration financed the governments and the militaries of these nations. Sometimes, as we came to find out later in the Iran Contra, sometimes against the law, against the ruling of Congress. And, of course also in roundabout ways, or covert ways, we'll call it, through the CIA and other channels like that, but also outright illegal channels. So narrowing in then to El Salvador and Guatemala --

    The other factor that comes into play is that there was the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church. I forget the year, but I believe it was 1968. Under a reforming Pope, let's call it, who was short-lived, and his name was Pope John 23rd. And that began a new concept that the priests and bishops of the Catholic Church carried back to their homelands, especially in Latin America, that's labeled Liberation Theology. And again, I can't speak for them. But what Liberation Theology basically summarized means is that in the past, the elite wealthy church supported the elite wealthy landowners and political leaders and nations’ leaders in these countries. And then that shifted, and Liberation Theology, for those bishops and priests who adopted it, it meant supporting the oppressed, the landless, the poor, the hungry.

    [00:07:54] Killings by government and military forces in El Salvador, with US support
    US School of Americas is a US military and exists still to this day, but under a new name. But at that time, that was its name, and it was in a center in Panama. And they trained Latin American military people. And they trained them in counterinsurgency and other techniques. Techniques that led to, if not authorized or trained them on, profoundly oppressive and -- constitute violations of human rights. And we're talking about things like torture, but also disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. And an extrajudicial killing means just killing somebody outside the law. Now, we'd already seen this in Argentina in the 70s. That's where the term desaparecido, I think, the origin of the term is from Argentina, where people were taken from their homes, taken off the streets, just taken. Civilians, regular people just taken, and never seen again.

    So, they were disappeared. It became a verb; they were disappeared. But by whom? And it was common knowledge both in Argentina in the 1970s, but also as this began occurring in El Salvador and Guatemala, it was common knowledge that they were being taken by government forces, military people, soldiers, National Guard, police -- and frequently out of uniform and in unmarked cars. But in unmarked cars, "that became easily identified by the people who lived there." Such as, I think at one point it was Black Broncos with the windows tinted. And who were being targeted with these oppressive techniques? The people who protested against -- you know, they were trying to bring about land reform. So peasants, poor rural people.

    So, who was being targeted -- the majority of the people being targeted with this oppression, killings, torture, disappearances. First of all, it was a lot of the protesters and activists. So, rural people, peasants who were working for land reform, and then the people supporting them, but also labor union activists. And then intellectuals who were supporting them, and activists who [inaudible] based at the universities; that included students and professors. And then the church people who were also becoming outspoken for these. So that was all happening in parallel in both El Salvador, Guatemala, and then, you know, other places, but we're focusing a little bit more on that.

    [00:10:58] Salvadorans and Guatemalans fleeing their homelands and seeking refuge
    So, as a result of all of this, and due to our proximity to Central America, many people had to flee. They fled their homes, maybe because they themselves were being targeted. Sometimes they were, or their family members were, so then now they’re at risk. And also just because their villages and homes were being destroyed. So thousands and thousands of people fled El Salvador and fled Guatemala seeking refuge, seeking safe refuge. Mexico was not a very safe haven, although there were huge refugee camps eventually built along the borders inside of Mexico. But many people went through Mexico to reach the United States.

    [00:11:48] Grassroots beginnings of Sanctuary Movement across the US
    So, the Sanctuary Movement has its origin in the border states of, especially, Texas and Arizona, where church people in particular had already been offering aid and support and assistance to people crossing the border who were undocumented, hungry, thirsty, and they had been offering aid to these people. And so, there's certain cities like Tucson, Arizona, and Brownsville, Texas, and El Paso, Texas. People, individuals, lay people who were not coordinated in the beginning or organized in the beginning, but just on an individual one-on-one basis began helping people to find food, clothing, shelter for people in need. That changed in about 1982, where religious people realized that their spiritual tradition has a long tradition in offering sanctuary to people who are being persecuted. And that's because when they began to work with these undocumented people and talk to them, they came to realize that they weren't just coming to the United States to look for work, as many, many people had in the past, and people from places like Mexico continue to do. But these were people fleeing for their lives. These were people who were deathly afraid of being returned to their home country, because they knew that was a death sentence for them.

    That's what was different. And they knew from their religious tradition, that they had an obligation to give sanctuary to these people. Also, our nation has a tradition -- a history, I should say, our nation has a history of the Underground Railroad. And that also was church people. Quakers, but also others who helped enslaved people escape slavery and find a place of freedom in states of the United States where slavery was not legal. And they called it the Underground Railroad. You know, Harriet Tubman and the tradition of finding safe homes, safe houses, and paths, and helping people on their journey northward to safe haven. So sometimes this was called the New Underground Railroad. I get a little emotional.

    Interviewer: You are not the only one.

    Jenny Beatty: Now, I do want to elaborate on that a little bit that many, many, many refugees helped in the Sanctuary Movement -- never went public, never spoke out about what happened to them, or told their stories. Many, many refugees were helped behind the scenes and, of course, that was for their own protection. And also, based on their own ability. You have to remember that these were people who were traumatized. Some of them had been captured and tortured. Some of them had seen their loved ones taken away and had direct death threats to themselves. That's traumatizing. And then, leaving your homeland with no expectation of returning, and then having a fear of being caught and returned to your death. All of this is very traumatizing. So many, many people who were helped in the Sanctuary Movement, we don't know all their names, and we don't know all their stories. But some people, some refugees decided that they would be public, and they would tell their story in public.

    [00:15:41] Creation of the Madison Sanctuary Movement in 1983
    To continue with the history of Sanctuary in Madison, once the church in Tucson went public, other churches came on board and also became more public about what they were doing. So, about a year later, in 1983, the Tucson Ecumenical Council Task Force approached the Chicago Religious Taskforce on Central America about becoming a national coordinator for the Sanctuary Movement in the United States. And from there, the Madison Sanctuary Movement was created with community members, with help from the Chicago Religious Taskforce on Central America. And that community group helped to educate Madison Area religious congregations on Sanctuary. And out of that, what happened is there were two sites of Sanctuary.

    And the first was in May 1983, the St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center publicly announced that they were giving sanctuary to four refugees from El Salvador. One was a young law student, and the other was a young couple with a small child. And that couple said that they had been beaten, arrested, and tortured by government forces in El Salvador, which caused them to flee. Shortly thereafter, the city of Madison was the first out of more than twenty cities to formally support religious congregations in offering sanctuary for refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala. And the city of Madison -- I'm sorry, the City Council of Madison passed a resolution in June 1983. And then, they reform that support in 1985 and again in 2010. And later, in 1986, Governor Tony Earl declared Wisconsin a Sanctuary for political refugees from Guatemala and El Salvador. So, after that, after St. Francis house declared sanctuary, other communities, religious communities in Madison decided that they wanted to do the same.

    So, four religious congregations came together to sponsor a refugee family. And on February 19, 1984, these four religious congregations publicly announced that they were giving sanctuary to a Central American family. The Gonzalez family from Guatemala was introduced and they were housed, supported, and protected by the Sanctuary Program in Madison for the next eighteen months. This second site of the Madison Sanctuary Program was a coalition that originally included the community of John 23rd Covenant Presbyterian Church, Israel Center, and Bethany United Methodist Church. This was the first time a group of religious communities came together to sponsor a refugee family in sanctuary. All the others were a single church, or synagogue, or religious congregation. The United -- I'm sorry, the Bethany United Methodist Church commitment was for six months.

    And at that point, some other religious congregations joined the program. And so, in September 1984, the Religious Society of Friends - Madison Friends Meeting, which is also known as Quakers, and the Community of Hope - United Church of Christ, and Advent Lutheran Church, joined the Sanctuary second site in supporting this refugee family. And I need to say that each of those congregations did a lot of deliberation before taking this step. It's a big step. They did research, education, a lot of internal discussion, and there was controversy because this was a public action and some of the congregants were concerned about liability and personal liability, because transporting an undocumented person is a felony in the United States. And that's how it was being treated by the Reagan administration. So there were congregants who were very concerned.

    All of this, though, was weighed against prevailing politics. There was a strong counter movement against the support that was being given to these, you know, terrible, oppressive nations. What is the role of military foreign aid? But also, how is immigration law being interpreted, and so on? And then, what is the history of sanctuary within each religious tradition? So all of these were discussed and weighed carefully. So that's a general summary about sanctuary, and what led to it, and how it came to Madison.

    [00:20:36] How Jenny got involved and became coordinator of site two in Madison
    Interviewer: Tell us why and how you got involved, and what kinds of things did you do, as it sounds like you were the second coordinator of site two in Madison?

    Jenny Beatty: Yes. So, as I discussed previously about how I met the family, the Gonzalez family -- and once again, they used pseudonyms for their own protection and safety. And when they spoke in public, they covered their faces, so they could not be identified. So I already talked about how I met the family and met the children. And I can't remember exactly how long after that -- I think it was about six months or so later -- I was asked if I would take over the role of coordinator that Meg Skinner had had. Meg Skinner was a member of the Quakers, and my family, we're members of the community of John 23rd. Just a quick thing about that -- the community John 23rd is a nondenominational, sort of nontraditional religious community that really was organized by families in the Madison area in the 1960s. And included families who had left both Catholic church but also Protestant families. And my family joined the community of John 23rd after we returned from Brazil. So, around 1969/1970, thereabouts. So it was a small community but a nondenominational.

    At some point, I guess, Meg -- so Meg Skinner was the first coordinator. And then I was asked to take on the role, and I did receive hourly wage for some of the work that I did. So it was some paid work for me. And again, the family was completely supported by the four or more religious congregations, including paying rent, you know, food, but also they got medical care, dental care, and all the needs that the family needed was taken care of by the resources of these congregations.

    And, of course, many members of the congregations, you know, they donated food and clothing and all sorts of resources personally as well. So, the role of the coordinator was -- because Rogelio, the father of the family, was fluent in English, very well spoken, very knowledgeable of the larger political issues in his own country and region, and could speak very eloquently about all of those issues, in addition to telling his personal story about his family he chose to speak in public. So, the role of the coordinator was not only to support the family, driving them to doctor's appointments, taking them to the grocery store, helping babysit. But also, we took Rogelio to his speaking engagements, and if needed, acted as a translator/interpreter. So, Meg Skinner's fluent Spanish, and I'm also fluent in Spanish.

    Now, once again, when he spoke in public, Rogelio was very fluent in English and usually spoke in English. But there were other times when our Spanish speaking skills were helpful. And I'm not sharing Rogelio's personal story, because you're interviewing him yourself and it's his story to tell. But I will tell you, it's very impactful. It's just very difficult to think about when you look at this family, this young couple, tiny children, and think about the possibility of them being deported to their deaths.

    [00:24:26] The Gonzalez family’s housing, daily activities, and speaking engagements
    Interviewer: I understand that they were they were moved around a lot or a certain amount.

    Jenny Beatty: Not exactly. First, what I'll say -- I'll talk a little bit about Rogelio's speaking engagements. Now, Rogelio asked me if I had a list of all the speaking engagements, and I don't. So I did not keep --

    Interviewer: Bob Skloot does. It's four pages long. One engagement after the next.

    Jenny Beatty: Yes. He spoke to thousands and thousands of people over those eighteen months. Church groups, of course, religious groups, university groups, political groups, in private homes. He spoke on the radio. Many, many, many presentations. Oh, Rogelio will want that list from Bob. And this is, to be very candid, it was very, very important for Rogelio to speak out. It was part of his -- he had to speak out. He couldn't remain silent about what had happened to his family and what happened to his nation, and was happening to his fellow citizens of his homeland. He had to speak out. So, I think on that level, it was healing. But when you tell that story over and over again, I think it also is very difficult. That's my perspective. So, he spoke in private homes, churches, the synagogue, all over Madison, like I said, and the radio, and always wore a mask when out in public, and they use pseudonyms.

    In fact, I don't even know if I knew their real names at the time. And it partly for me was a self-protective thing. I didn't want to make a slip and use the incorrect name. And also, if I were arrested, and interrogated, I didn't want to reveal their real names. So, for me, they were Rogelio and Maria Gonzalez. I want to say, too, the Madison Sanctuary Movement -- these community members who helped these religious congregations to make it a sanctuary -- they trained us. They held training sessions, because we needed to know what were the laws, what were our rights, how to conduct ourselves if we were arrested, to be careful that we might be being followed or watched or monitored, how to be careful on the phone and when driving. And -- because we were concerned that there was surveillance going on of the Sanctuary Movement, which proved to be true. So, I'll talk about that for a minute.

    Well, back to your question. The family was housed in an apartment, and none of the children were old enough to go to school yet. So basically, they were home with the kids. They didn't -- Rogelio and Maria did not have jobs then, because they – well, they were undocumented, but also they had the children. And really Rogelio was there to speak out. They lived, as I recall, in only one apartment, until on January 5, 1985. On that day, I got a phone call. Let me back up a minute. So, I was a college student. And so, the coordination work that I did to help the Gonzalez family was, you know, part time as needed. And again, I was always available to help them if they needed groceries, they ran out of diapers, they needed a babysitter, or translator for anything, and to take Rogelio to speaking engagements. And part of that was my boyfriend at the time had a very large eight passenger station wagon. So, I was able to carry and take -- drive the family, the entire family, around if they needed that. So, that was a benefit that I had. But back in 1985, of course, we didn't have the internet, we didn't have cell phones, and so on.

    [00:28:06] Taking the Gonzalez family into hiding and moving them to church grounds
    So, all I remember, though, was that I was at home and got a phone call. And the phone call was, "Take the family into hiding immediately."

    Interviewer: Whoa.

    Jenny Beatty: And so, I got in the car went straight to their home. I did not call -- as I recall, I did not call them because, again, we were concerned that our phones were being – possibly -- being monitored, and went straight to the home, gathered the whole family. We took diapers, clothes, and I took them to a safe house. Now, this safe house was “a member of my congregation," the Community of John 23rd, had approached me, and it was only about a month or so before, and said, "You know, if you do ever need to take the family into hiding, you can take them to my mother's house." And he gave me his mother's name, address, and phone number. And I presume he spoke with his mother, who was elderly, and lived alone in a town near Madison. So, on that day I went, gathered the family, clothes -- a little bit of clothes, toys, and diapers, showed up on this woman's doorstep without any notice, and said, "Here we are," with a family of six and she took them in.

    And I told nobody where they were because, again, we were very concerned if they would be captured and arrested. So nobody knew where they were except me and then the gentleman who had given me his mother's name. And the Sanctuary Movement people found housing for the family.

    Now, back to sanctuary and what it means. Often it was interpreted very literally throughout history, that the tradition of sanctuary was that the person being persecuted and the person being given sanctuary was housed in the church itself, and that soldiers or government agents would not enter a church in order to arrest or capture somebody. So when this time came, the Sanctuary Movement people found a place for the family to stay on church grounds. And that was at the St. Benedict Center. The wonderful, wonderful Sisters of St. Benedict's took in the Gonzalez family.

    That is now the Holy Wisdom Monastery, and the same sisters are still in charge. I don't have their names in front of me, that's -- So anyway, the family, we moved them to the grounds of St. Benedict's which has several buildings, and they have -- so they lived in an apartment there. But they did not leave the grounds. So, that put an end to the public speaking. Literally, the family did not leave the property.

    [00:30:53] Moving the Gonzalez family out of Madison, towards Canadian citizenship
    So we knew that their time in Sanctuary Madison was coming to an end. And that's when we put effort into finding the family a way to find true sanctuary, and true safe haven. And that was in the nation of Canada.

    So, I want to offer a little contrast here. In some of the research that I did, again, offering refugee status is often, in the United States, extremely political. And at that time, you may recall in 1980 (this was when Jimmy Carter was still president), the United States accepted thousands of refugees, and prisoners, and felons, and convicts from Cuba. And -- that was the Mariel boatlift -- and always has accepted refugees from Cuba. At this time in the 1980s under the Reagan administration, people seeking refugee status in the United States from Poland and Iran, were given it at very high rates, 50% or higher, but from El Salvador and Guatemala -- extremely low rates, you know, 1, 2%. So that's when, you know, people go, "Well, they were undocumented. Why didn't they just apply for refugee status?" Well, that's why. Because according to the Reagan administration, they were labeled economic refugees, which is a non-term, that's not even a thing. You're either a refugee or you're someone seeking to immigrate. But this was a label that was given in order to discount their stories, and to – anyway, refuse refuge to them in the United States. So anyway, we did not even bother with the family applying for refugee status in the United States.

    And in contrast, Canada has a long, long history of accepting refugees and welcoming refugees from many, many parts of the world. And so, that was when my efforts shifted to assisting the family -- and others also assisted -- in completing the paperwork and documentation for the family to go to Canada. That included -- we made a secret trip to Chicago to meet with the consul because they needed a personal interview with the Canadian consul. And I took the family to Chicago. The family stayed inside a church and met with a consul, and they were granted refugee status. And so, once again, people from the Madison Sanctuary Movement then, in a caravan of cars, took the family to their new home in Canada.

    And that's where, similar to what we had been doing, in Canada, many of the refugees are sponsored by church organizations. And so, they're in Canada in their new home. They were given housing and all sorts of assistance and, of course, they were on a path to citizenship, which they ultimately achieved. So, they are now citizens of Canada. Their children went to school, and not only did they know Spanish from their home, but they learned English and French. And both Rogelio and Maria were given job training. Rogelio completed a college degree. I can't recall if he had a college degree before he came over. I think he finished it in Canada. So they've continued their lives and had wonderful lives in Canada, where they've been safe and free from fear of, you know, deportation. So, that kind of completes my role. The only -- I'll let Rogelio tell the rest of the story if he chooses to about the family in Canada.

    But, you know, suffice it to say that they were safe. My role with the Sanctuary Movement in Madison -- there's one more element. We decided to invite the Gonzalez family back for a reunion with the people who had helped them when they were in Madison in 1984 and 1985. And we had that reunion in 2015. And Rogelio and Maria came with two of their grandchildren. And that was when they were able to meet with many of the people who had helped them, reconnect with them, and that was held at Holy Wisdom Monastery. So that was really nice. And I helped to organize that.

    [00:35:28] Impact of Rogelio and Maria Gonzalez sharing their family’s story in Madison
    Interviewer: What effect did all of these speeches, and presentations, and classes that Rogelio gave -- and some with Maria, as I understand -- What effect do you think that, or did you observe that that had on the people of Madison?

    Jenny Beatty: I'm not sure if I'm the right person to answer that question. Except to say -- I will say a couple of things. You know, you can read the papers and see what the mainstream media -- I don't want to use that word -- I’m sorry. So, you can read the newspapers, and you can see what the government is saying about what's happening in Central America. You can see what the media is saying about Central America. And then, many people who care to -- at that time, there were many -- they could read other publications, magazines, and news articles, you know, Christian Science Monitor, and many other publications to learn about what was really going on in El Salvador and Guatemala. There were also programs where people went to these countries to witness and observe for themselves. And I think you're going to hear more about that with the Sister City Project, or people going to Arcatao. But if you -- a lot of that can seem very abstract.

    But when you see somebody who tell their own story in their own words, and this happened to them, and it happened to their family members, their loved ones were taken away and disappeared. And I will say this: to this day, Rogelio does not know what happened to his family members. There's been no witness, no evidence, no document, no remains, have ever been found to know what happened to his family members. And to hear that in their own words, in their own voice, is very powerful. So, I think that that there was a great effect. What was the result? I can't say, but the continued support that the city of Madison has had, and support of sanctuary and refugees, I think, shows that. It had an effect on me.

    Did you want to ask about me because I did a little bit more sanctuary work, but not in Madison?

    Interviewer: You've talked about a lot of amazing powerful memories. Do you want to pick one out as one that really jumps out from all those years ago?

    Jenny Beatty: Well, I have shared one that was when the small child drew the picture. The impact of that is it really makes you reflect on your own upbringing, and how many of us -- not all of us but many of us -- in the United States never fear a knock on the door. Or never fear when a police officer approaches us. But to hear a four-year-old, a four-year-old to say as a statement of fact that police kill people and to show a helicopter with bullets coming out at people on the ground. That's pretty powerful.

    [00:38:50] Jenny Beatty’s sanctuary work outside of Madison
    The other impactful story I can tell is that I later graduated from UW, and this is after the Gonzalez family had moved to Canada, I graduated from UW and I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    And I was involved in the Sanctuary Movement there, but to a lesser extent. I was working full time and was a volunteer for some different activities, and I did assist as a translator-interpreter for refugees. Particularly some projects that kind of came in waves to assist people with their applications for refuge in Canada, and just assist them with the paperwork, and translating their stories, and helping them literally complete the forms. At one point, there was a great need. There was a whole group of refugees who had come to the Casa Oscar Romero in El Paso. And I went to El Paso to help. And I remember helping one young man who was seeking refuge and asylum in Canada and under refugee status. And he was from El Salvador. And he said that he'd been on a death squad and he had killed people.

    So, that was pretty hard. And yet, there was a point where then he had to flee for his life. So, these are really, really difficult, difficult things. And I think the other part that makes -- I think the other aspect of why I wanted to be involved and was compelled to be involved is, it goes beyond helping people in need, which is important to do. But these people are in need because my government is helping their government to kill them. So there's an obligation. There's a moral obligation to help these people and to try to do something to stop my government from doing that. And it's just that simple.

    [00:41:02] Motivations and approaches to providing Sanctuary
    Interviewer: But you're bringing up something that Laurie and I talked about, which was that in the -- and I don't know if this is true for you -- in the Sanctuary Movement in Madison, there was kind of a divide between those who were -- because of their religious side and their faith, they felt compelled to provide sanctuary. And then there was the activists who were getting out the word, and irate and outraged about what our government was doing. And those two sides were a little bit separate. They were doing their own thing. And Laurie was saying, "In Central America, they are the same thing. Because of Liberation Theology, they are the same thing." What do you say to that?

    Jenny Beatty: Yeah, I can speak to that a little bit. I think it's a little bit more like a Venn diagram, where there's a pretty large overlap. The other thing I want to say -- well, I've heard that there's sort of two camps who were involved in the Sanctuary Movement. On the one hand, activists, many of whom were university students, but also other community members, who were very active and vocal in protesting US involvement in Central America. And then, on the other hand, religious people who, through their religious congregation, wanted to help people in need, which they did through the Sanctuary Movement. And there may have been some conflict there, or disagreement about processes, or disagreement about methodology about what to do. But I feel like there was in the Venn diagram, I think there's a lot of overlap. Many, many, many of the religiously motivated people were also just as outraged about what the Reagan administration was doing, what our nation was doing in Central America, and protesting and very active as well.

    So, it's not a clear distinction, like it's a us or them, or a black or white, and not at all. I think that there was a lot of overlap. And certainly for Rogelio it's both, you know? And, again, he should speak for himself, I shouldn't speak for him. The other thing that can happen, I think, in political activism, is sometimes you feel impotent. All you can do is go down to the library mall for a protest march. And that doesn't feel very impactful. And I've done that, you know? And it's important to do that. I mean, it's still important to do. If it gets in the media, it's important to be able to say people are protesting this initiative, or that, whatever. In this case that we're supporting oppression and torture and human rights violations in another country. But it can also feel like you're not really having an impact.

    But helping people, actual people, to find safe haven and help them to be safe, and help them to tell their story became, you know, really important to a lot of people. As I said, though, many refugees assisted through the Sanctuary Movement never spoke in public. They may have spoken privately about what happened to them, but many were not capable of speaking in public, because they were very traumatized. So it was both.

    Interviewer: Yeah, of course. Thank you so much, Jenny.