SANTUARY!

These churches are turning to a hallowed tradition to shield undocumented immigrants from Trump

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Donald Trump’s talk about deporting undocumented immigrants has spurred a lot of cities and organizations to talk about having “sanctuary” status, but some churches are talking about going even further than that. How far? Think Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The Associated Press reports that about 450 different churches around the country have offered some form of sanctuary to undocumented immigrants facing deportation. The houses of worship cross denominational and religious lines and are mainly concentrated in cities.

Some of the different offers:

  • The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, which adopted a resolution proclaiming their diocese of 140 churches to be a “sanctuary diocese.” The resolution states that the church’s institutions will serve “as places of welcome, refuge, healing, and other forms of material and pastoral support for those targeted by hate due to immigration status.”
  • The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported a group of 30 Minnesota churches announced 13 sanctuary locations where immigrants can take refuge. “We want to say: ‘Don’t increase deportations.’ Let’s fix our immigration system, and offer a path to citizenship so our neighbors don’t live in fear,” Rev. James Erlandson told the Press.
  • The Nation reported that the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City offers physical sanctuary at at least 11 Christian congregations around the city. “We need faith leaders to step up and show their support for physical sanctuary, because the present situation is only going to get worse,” coalition director Ravi Ragbir told The Nation.
  • The Associated Press reported 17 Philadelphia churches participating in the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia had seen 1,000 new volunteers since Trump’s victory.

These local efforts will go a long way toward helping undocumented immigrants facing a Trump crackdown. But it’s a bit embarrassing to see local churches and interfaith groups picking up the slack while many national organizations remain silent.

For example, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, an organization that typically supports the rights of refugees and immigrants, seems more interested in working with Trump than resisting him. A press release issued by the organization following Trump’s election called for “… humane policies that protect refugees and immigrants’ inherent dignity …” but also never mentioned undocumented immigrants once, let alone the specter of deportation.

“We stand ready to work with a new administration to continue to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans,” the press release stated.

Just remember for a second that Donald Trump has promised to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Given the general trajectory of his troubled transition, betting that he’s not competent enough to follow through on that promise might seem like a safe bet. So does Russian Roulette.