The Sanctuary Movement is nothing new to the United States. Beginning in the 1980s when Central American citizens were protected by American churches while civil war raged on in their home countries, the grassroots movement has only recently seen a revival with fear of aggressive deportation, according to Groundwell.
With fears that have only mounted since President Trump announced his candidacy, illegal aliens have increasingly feared deportation with each mention of losing their jobs and homes in America.
“We do not want to be bad citizens. We do not want to violate the law,” said the Rev. Justo Gonzalez II, pastor of Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ in Buffalo, New York. “But we will stand on the side of justice, and we will stand on our faith and God’s law and our understanding that we are to welcome our brothers and sisters,” according to an interview with Religion News Service.
These illegal immigrants have found refuge in sanctuary churches. These churches have agreed to protect these people from search and deportation, even though in doing so they are considered “harboring an illegal alien” by the U.S. Government.
“We wouldn’t want to say, ‘Stay here, we’ll protect you.’ …” Catholic Cardinal Donald Wuerl said in comments to the editorial board of The Washington Post. “With separation of church and state, the church really does not have the right to say, ‘You come in this building and the law doesn’t apply to you.’ But we do want to say we’ll be a voice for you.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has not sought to remove immigrants from sanctuary churches to date.