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Local churches take the lead in resisting immigration raids

Local churches take the lead in resisting immigration raids

Churches and religious leaders are organizing to resist Trump administration immigration and deportation policies.


Statements condemning the action came from Christian leaders and groups considered both conservative and progressive, evangelical and mainline, Catholic and Protestant ­– Christians who otherwise might disagree on any number of political or theological issues.

More than 500 evangelical pastors and ministry leaders from all 50 states signed a letter critical of the order, which temporarily halted the U.S. refugee resettlement program and barred entry to travelers coming from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Eight hundred mostly mainline and progressive clergy signed a petition that read in part: “We pray that you remember immigrants and refugees have sacred worth in God’s eyes.”

The New Sanctuary Movement is organizing people and training people, mainly in churches, to resist the stepped up deportation and immigration enforcement of the new administration.


The group hopes to leverage a long-standing policy that federal agents won’t make arrests in houses of worship — to create a kind of mobile sanctuary wherever a raid is happening, through prayers and hymns.

President Trump’s immigration enforcement plans are still evolving, but the ominous feeling that they’ve created in communities of unauthorized immigrants has spurred trainings such as this one across the country.

Here’s how New Sanctuary Movement’s response network will work: when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers approach a home, people inside are instructed to call a hotline. That call initiates a text alert to all of the trained volunteers.

In Philadelphia, the group has signed up  1,300 people and trained 500 to resist deportations by ICE. In attempting to hamper enforcement, the New Sanctuary Movement has three goals:

to be in solidarity and show up for families. Two, it is to shine a light, and then for some people who are going to risk arrest, it is to peacefully and prayerfully disrupt,” says co-founder and director Peter Pedemonti.

That disruption means volunteers circling an immigration vehicle or a home to try to stop removals. If arrested, disrupters could face criminal charges for impeding officers.


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