“We Open Our Doors to Today’s Josephs and Marys Despite ICE’s Plan to Deport them.” a statement of the Faith community
With Christmas upon us and so many people on the move, escaping violence and civil unrest, many Christians look at the suffering of those refugees and remind themselves and one another that these are the Josephs and Marys of our modern world, the people who can’t “find a room at the inn.” In the United States, the battle to protect immigrants from deportation back to the violent environments they’ve come here to escape is lead by faith leaders – Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalists.
Although “sanctuary” has its roots in ancient Hebrew tradition and early Christianity, the movement in the United States, one that is both political and religious, began in the early 80s as a response to federal immigration policy. It sought to provide safe-haven for Central American refugees escaping violence. At its height 500 congregations in the United States declared themselves official sanctuaries “committed to providing shelter, material goods and often legal advice to Central American refugees.” Movement members who acted in defiance of federal law where often arrested and put on trial.
A resurgence of the Sanctuary Movement began in 2014 when, in defiance of a court order to stop detaining children, the Obama administration increased the detention of families by 173%, subsequently announcing it would search for and deport asylum-seeking families. The resurgent Movement put public pressure on the Obama Administration, which led to the President’s Executive Action on Immigration on November 20, 2014.
If you are reading this post from an email, you’ll have to link through to the site to watch this brief video of President Obama using his executive authority to address as much of the problem as he could while he kept working with Congress to pass more comprehensive reform.
Now the Sanctuary Movement has announced its intention to play “a critical role again in responding to the post-election reality wherein fear, discrimination and xenophobia have taken a new precedence in our country’s politics. Since the Trump administration has promised to deport millions, people of faith have a moral responsibility to act. Sanctuary is a tool that helps escalate these efforts by offering our neighbors who face a deportation order, safe refuge and sanctuary in our congregations.”
Do you have experience with this issue as a refugee/immigrant, the American born child of an undocumented immigrant, or as a teacher, faith leader or community worker involved in providing services? Perhaps you are someone who has seen a neighbor disappear? Share your story. Write about the issues from your unique perspective.
Maybe you live in one of the countries that has had and continues to have a flood of refugees out of Syria. Write about your concerns. What are you seeing? What are your feelings? Has your life changed as a result?
Consider submitting this work to be considered for the January 15 issue of The BeZine. The theme is “Resist” and the deadline is January 10. Send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org