As most people in America know by now, the Trump Administration’s policies are hostile to undocumented immigrants. The U.S. government, which formerly tolerated most undocumented immigrants as long as they avoided committing serious crimes, has adopted a much more aggressive approach, deporting people who are living here without permission even if they have no criminal history as well as hugely increasing the budget for policing the border and requiring local police offers to act as immigration enforcement agents. For more information about the Trump Administration’s policies toward undocumented immigrants, click here.
Many communities of faith in Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other religious traditions see these laws as unjust and cruel, especially because so many families are being brokenup as undocumented parents are deported away from spouses and children who are legal U.S. residents. In response to laws that they see as inhumane, these faith communities have chosen to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants who are being threatened with deportation.
To offer sanctuary today means to offer a place on the church grounds for undocumented individuals to live, prepare food, and sleep while they work toward getting permission to remain in the U.S. U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement internal regulations treat churches and other sacred spaces as sensitive areas, and agents are generally reluctant to forcibly remove people who seek sanctuary in such areas — though churches are not guaranteed the right to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.
In this course, Paul Perez, founder and director of Justice For Our Neighbors in Southeastern Michigan, explains why and how faith communities in the U.S. have chosen to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. He offers guidance about how a congregation might prepare itself to offer sanctuary to an undocumented individual or family, and he suggests ways in which congregations might join a larger network of faith-based organizations, nonprofits, and legal aid programs that assist undocumented immigrants.
We hope that any congregation that is discerning about a call to offer sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant or family will get some guidance from this class about how to proceed. For a preview, please click here.