Longform

When It Comes to Identification, Prisoners Are Held in Higher Esteem Than Migrants

Esther Escalante has the chaste presence of a church lady, which, in fact, she is. Her husband is pastor at Phoenix Tabernacle in South Phoenix.

The Tabernacle is a Pentecostal church that mixes hellfire with live music (including an accordian played in a way that would have terrified Lawrence Welk). The congregants carry Bibles and tambourines, and when the minister sings, "I'll Fly Away," 600 voices join in jubilee. The Sunday preaching goes on from 9 until 11:15 a.m., at which point the minister begins a laying-on of hands to literally drive out demons possessing dozens of members of the church.

One recent Sunday, the preacher asked God's help in returning Hector's stolen car.

The churchgoers, as well as Esther and her husband, are mostly migrants.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey