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Rep. Grijalva and Dozens of Congregations Announce Nationwide Movement to Offer Sanctuary to Immigrants Facing Deportation

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The following is a press release from Church World Services:

Faith communities across country do what Congress and Administration have refused to do: protect and stand with immigrants facing deportation

A nationwide movement to provide physical sanctuary to immigrants and their families facing deportation is rapidly growing, from two churches in Arizona to two dozen congregations promising sanctuary and another 60 faith communities offering support.

This growing movement comes in the wake of the Obama Administration’s announcement of delayed executive action and Congress’ failure at immigration reform.

The rapidly growing list of cities with congregations offering and supporting sanctuary includes Boston, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, New York, Oakland, Portland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and Tucson. Physical sanctuary is currently being provided in Phoenix, Tucson, Chicago and Portland.

When the U.S. government failed to follow its refugee laws as people fled the civil wars it fueled in Central America in the 80s, a small Arizona church made history. It started the Sanctuary Movement, a call to care for “the stranger.” Churches across the country responded, collectively offering sanctuary to thousands of people.

For the first time in 30 years, from the southside of Chicago to a synagogue in Philadelphia, dozens of houses of worship are opening their doors to offer physical sanctuary. Unlike the 80s, today’s immigration crisis calls to mind not the stranger, but the neighbor with 1,000 deportations every day – mothers and fathers who leave behind family and a community they love.

In a national press teleconference today, Rep. Raúl Grijalva and faith leaders from cities across the country spoke on the growing movement and momentum to stand with immigrants facing deportation.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona’s 3rd District, said:

The sanctuary movement is a response to the lack of action. It is a response to the humanity of the issue. And I think it is going to be a cornerstone in pushing the decency of the American people to demand of its elected officials to do something… The sanctuary movement across this country speaks to the moral imperative and the humanity of the issue, which is forgotten in the political discourse that happens around the issue of immigration — where people become number, where the consequences of families being divided is minimized, where children fleeing their violence are treated as invaders.

The press call was sponsored by groups including the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Church World Service, PICO National Network, Philadelphia New Sanctuary Movement, and Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition.

Listen to the press call here and find out more information here.

Recent and upcoming sanctuary events across the nation:

Denver: On September 10, a coalition of congregations announced their commitment to provide sanctuary for immigrants facing deportation.

Portland: On September 22, Augustana Lutheran Church declared sanctuary for father and community activist Francisco Aguirre. Groups are planning another press conference for September 25.

Philadelphia: On September 24, the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia hosted a morning press conference announcing their commitment to provide sanctuary for immigrants facing deportation.

Tucson: On September 24, Tucson congregations are holding a press conference at 12:00PM PDT at the ICE office where a Tucson father will request a stay of removal.

Boston: On September 27, the New Sanctuary Movement of Boston is hosting an Interfaith Summit on Immigrant Justice. On the 28th, the group will lead a vigil at the Suffolk County Jail, which houses ICE detainees.

Chicago: On September 29, Chicago faith leaders will hold a solidarity press conference in support of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Beatriz Ramirez.

Berkeley/Oakland: Sanctuary congregations are planning a launch for October 14.