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Resisting Trump, churches give sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation

After receiving a deportation order, Eliseo Jimenez took sanctuary at Umstead Park United Church of Christ in Raleigh, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

RALEIGH, N.C. (RNS) — The church covenant makes it clear: The congregation is to be “a safe haven, free from the fear of judgment, where wounds are healed, differences are celebrated and inclusivity is intentional.”

Eighteen years ago, when they wrote that covenant, members of Umstead Park United Church of Christ might not have imagined that “safe haven” might also mean a place of sanctuary where a 39-year-old Mexican immigrant would take refuge from the immediate threat of deportation.

But in hindsight, that covenant clause seems prophetic.

This congregation of 300 members has become the first church in Raleigh to convert part of its space into a bedroom. Three other religious communities in North Carolina have done so since May, and another five churches in the state are getting ready to vote on inviting immigrant families into their midst.

Across the nation, 32 congregations — the vast majority Protestant churches — are housing people at risk of deportation, according to Church World Service, which is tracking the development.

While not exactly a groundswell, such faith-based resistance to immigration policy has not been seen since the 1980s, when hundreds of churches and synagogues extended sanctuary to people fleeing civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala.

And it is testing how far the Trump administration is willing to take its tough line on immigration: Will law enforcement be sent into houses of worship against the will of congregants motivated by sincere beliefs — and despite the president’s stated commitment to religious freedom?

Could our pastor get arrested?

Umstead Park welcomed Eliseo Jimenez of Greensboro, N.C., on Oct. 9. An itinerant laborer who worked in the state’s tobacco fields in the 1990s and later in construction laying floors, Jimenez ran out of time.

For the past five years he has reported yearly to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Charlotte and received a work permit. This past summer, the federal agency told him it would not extend his permit and ordered to him leave the country by July 31.

Jimenez, who has four children including a 4-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl, has been living in the U.S. for most of his life — 22 years — and is his family’s primary breadwinner.

Gary Sanders, one of the church’s lead volunteers, said the nation’s immigration policy is “tearing people’s lives apart.”

“These people aren’t hardened criminals. It’s not what the government would have us believe — that they’re deporting people that are bad people. Eliseo is a fine person who wants to provide for his family. It’s a broken system we live in.”

For these churches, resisting an immigration system, which under President Trump has ramped up enforcement and detention, has become one way to counter the politics of the day.

“It’s a spiritual act, but it has political implications,” said the Rev. Doug Long, the church’s pastor. “It’s who we are. It’s what we said when we wrote our covenant 18 years ago: This is a place of refuge.”

Most churches that become sanctuary congregations spend months debating whether to do it.

In the case of Umstead Park UCC, the process moved fairly quickly.

A young, mostly white congregation with a large number of LGBTQ members, Umstead Park has long been committed to progressive social values. It shares a green-certified building with an architectural design firm in an office park off U.S. 70. Its pastor was arrested in Moral Monday demonstrations protesting the Republican-led policies of the North Carolina Legislature. And after Trump’s election, and the ill-fated rollout of the first travel ban, the church began to watch immigration issues more closely.

In July, the church formed a 10-member committee to study the issue. It met with a congregation 76 miles away in Greensboro that had already extended sanctuary to an undocumented person, and researched a host of legal issues. Members grappled with tough questions:

  • Can we do something of this magnitude?
  • Would we jeopardize our 501(c)(3) tax status?
  • Could our pastor get arrested?

After considering all sides of the issues to most members’ satisfaction, the committee recommended that the church forge ahead. On the last Sunday in September, members voted in a secret ballot, 89-5, to invite an undocumented person needing sanctuary.

The easy part was over.

The congregation now turned its attention to finding the right immigrant to take in and called on a local advocacy organization, Alerta Migratoria NC, for referrals.

The congregation wanted someone who might present a judge with a compelling legal case for staying or squashing his or her deportation order.

Jimenez fit the bill. He had a lawyer and a legal strategy dating back to 2007, when he was pulled over for a broken taillight and arrested under a program that allows sheriff’s deputies to identify undocumented immigrants and hand them over to ICE. While in detention he was forced to sign his own deportation order. His lawyer maintains this was a violation of his Fourth Amendment due-process rights.

After spending a month in Mexico, Jimenez returned to the U.S. His only other arrest came in 2013, when the police picked him up for driving what they said was a stolen vehicle. It turned out the vehicle was his roommate’s, and, after prolonged jail time for Jimenez, the district attorney dismissed the charges.

Eliseo Jimenez and his family participate in a church service at Umstead Park United Church of Christ in Raleigh, N.C. From left, Gabriela, Christopher, Eliseo and Alison. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

Like millions of other undocumented immigrants, Jimenez wants to stay in the U.S. to care for his family. His youngest children, Alison and Christopher, need him, as does his partner, Gabriela, who is struggling to support the family single-handedly preparing tacos on a food truck in Greensboro.

“I would like to stay with my family — give them a better life than the one I have and be with them,” he said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Since taking sanctuary in a youth activity room, which the church turned into a bedroom, Jimenez has busied himself with various handyman tasks around the building, touching up paint, fixing kitchen cabinets. One Sunday he helped break down display tables in the lobby — not for pay but as a way of keeping busy. Mostly he spends his days talking on his cellphone with family and friends. And he waits.

‘They’re there to be a witness’

The decision to offer Jimenez sanctuary was not the end of the process, but the beginning.

Becoming a sanctuary church requires daily oversight and a fleet of volunteers.

Eliseo Jimenez vacuums the carpet in his room at Umstead Park United Church of Christ in Raleigh, N.C. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

For one thing, the church requires a volunteer, called a “host,” to sit in the church lobby 24/7, so that if immigration officers come knocking, the person in sanctuary is not the one to answer the door.

In addition to its own members, Umstead Park reached out to five local congregations, including a Jewish synagogue, to help provide hosts. Those nonmembers make up about 30 percent of the volunteer force.

All hosts must pass a background check and attend a training session.

If an ICE officer shows up at the door, the host is to ask to see a warrant signed by a judge. If an arrest is made, they’re to document it, preferably with their phone’s video camera.

“We’ve trained them to mentally rehearse what that would look like and how to interact in a nonthreatening way,” said Bridget Blinn-Spears, a church member and an employment lawyer who leads the training. “They’re really there to be a witness. They’ve thought about how to stay calm and respectful and engage with (ICE) appropriately.”

Besides the hosts, the church needs what it calls “helpers,” people who can wash Jimenez’s clothes (the church has no washing machine) and buy him groceries. Three times a week, a helper brings a cooked evening meal.

And then it needs advocates. Sanctuary is not a solution; it’s intended to be a halfway measure that calls attention to the person and agitates for a legal resolution. That means the church needs to sustain a publicity campaign on behalf of Jimenez — in the media and among elected officials.

“We’re trying to get that story in front of people who have policy-making influence,” said Blinn-Spears. “None of these cases are sure things and they’re very hard to win, regardless.”

Across the U.S., at least three people living in sanctuary have been able to leave the churches where they took refuge after their deportation orders were rescinded, including Minerva Garcia, a woman who lived in a Greensboro UCC church for three months.

That’s a lot of work for a small church, especially one with middle-aged working adults. But members insist it hasn’t been a burden.

“It’s added energy to the church,” said Tricia Andrews, a stay-at-home mom and a church member who volunteers as a host. “I’m really proud we’re doing this. We’re not just talking the talk; we’re walking the walk. To me, it’s the good Samaritan story.”

Sarah Sydney, who earlier in her life overstayed her tourist visa to Italy for six years, said she feels a special bond with undocumented people. When it’s her turn to serve as host she brings her two boys and, when Jimenez’s children are visiting, the four play together.

“They adore Eliseo’s children,” Sydney said. “Our family gets so much out of it. The volunteering has been a fulfilling and wonderful experience.”

Testing ‘sensitive locations’ policy

Umstead Park does not believe it is breaking the law in offering sanctuary.

Some lawyers might disagree. But a few things are clear:

Federal law doesn’t recognize the concept of “sanctuary” in a place of worship. But churches — along with schools and hospitals — are considered “sensitive locations,” meaning that federal immigration enforcement officers will avoid arresting, searching or interviewing people there under most circumstances.

The one area government authorities have not allowed is transporting undocumented immigrants from one place to another.

To avoid the perception that it was hiding Jimenez, the church held a news conference on Oct. 9, the day he entered sanctuary. It also informed ICE of his whereabouts.

The church hasn’t had any problems with law enforcement, though a zoning officer did inquire about the church providing a residential living space. (An obscure zoning rule allows churches to provide temporary accommodations.)

But in recent months, the Trump administration has also begun testing the “sensitive locations” policy — at least as it applies to hospitals.

Last month, a 10-year-old undocumented girl who was traveling by ambulance to a hospital in Texas was stopped by Border Patrol agents who then trailed her to the hospital, guarded her during gallbladder surgery and then took her into custody. She was released 10 days later after a national outcry.

“We are hoping and praying that the administration continues to respect churches’ ability to offer sanctuary, and if they don’t, we’re prepared to be the first church where they decide not to,” said Blinn-Spears.

One advantage the church may have? The Trump administration’s commitment to religious freedom. Church leaders say that if the administration is going to champion the religious freedom of conservative Christians, it ought to respect the beliefs of more liberal Christians who believe offering sanctuary is part of their faith, too.

So far, offering sanctuary to Jimenez has united the church and opened it up to a new constituency: Hispanics.

North Carolina, with 338,000 undocumented immigrants, has the fastest-growing immigrant population in the country, according to the 2010 census data.

Doug Long, left, pastor of Umstead Park United Church of Christ in Raleigh, N.C., stands next to Eliseo Jimenez, who is taking sanctuary there. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

Some of them now see Umstead Park as a safe place.

“They’ve come and been among us and celebrated the fact that he is here and felt some camaraderie and hopefulness,” said Long, the pastor.

Jimenez is grateful, too.

“There are not too many churches in North Carolina that can offer sanctuary to people like me,” he said. “Some churches are afraid of legal issues. If more people know there are places like this church that can help us, it will be beneficial for everybody, especially for the kids.”

But neither Jimenez nor the church knows what lies ahead. For now, both are waiting and praying for the best.

About the author

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.

44 Comments

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  • Religious freedom is one thing. Aiding and abetting criminal activity is entirely something different. I would support law enforcement entering and detaining criminals seeking sanctuary in a church.

  • “The church covenant makes it clear: The congregation is to be “a safe haven, free from the fear of judgment…” God has already judged them…..1 Thessalonians 5:22King James Version (KJV)
    22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Let the person come into the country legally, as many many have, waiting their turn and finally getting it. He should not receive priority over someone who has waited a long time and may be next in line.

  • In every Country in the world you have to sign the guest list on the way in, and be able to provide verifiable documentation. The reason is because there are 7.5 billion people on the planet, and there would be chaos if everyone did what they wanted without rules and regulations.

  • I don’t believe the church would be an open sanctuary if it were 12 million Islamists that came into this Country without documentation, nor would they expect the mosques to be an open sanctuary across this Country either.

  • Immigration violations are not criminal activity. Immigration law is not criminal law. So you have little to worry there.

  • God bless those congregations for living Jesus’ words: “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
    Next time RNS lauds the pope and bishops for their words about refugees and immigrants, let’s remember that not one of them has offered any of the tens of thousands of Catholic properties in the U.S as sanctuary.

  • I’m not horizontally challenged, I’m a bit overweight. They are illegally here in the US – illegal aliens. It’s not fair that untold thousands are patiently waiting to be granted legal access to live in the US while millions (from around the world) cross the borders illegally or overstay their visa and some have the nerve to demand the right to remain here. It’s a matter of fairness – which, the last time I checked, isn’t a partisan or religious issue.

  • “It’s not fair that untold thousands are patiently waiting to be granted legal access to live in the US while millions (from around the world) cross the borders illegally or overstay their visa”

    It’s also entirely incorrect that one affects the other.

    There is no “line” being jumped here nor are people getting a stay of deportation getting rights greater than people awaiting visas. You are citing fairness in a fictitious situation. Ignorance as to how the system works informs most arguments on the subject.

    It is entirely unfair that we have a system which apparently demands cheap labor illegal immigrants provide and lacks the means of doing so above board. Catch and deport merely makes it easier to exploit that labor source. Rather than look to solve the problem, such as a manual labor visa (which the US used to have) we are looking at measures which do nothing but maintain status quo.

  • Socrates, I too wonder about the words render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. The more help churches give law breakers, the fewer donations those churches will receive.

  • No other country has the success in absorbing immigrants as the US. We do not follow the lead of those who are doing it badly.

    Rather than waste resources attacking menial laborers, whose work is in demand, maybe it’s time we addressed the issue sanely. But you can’t whip up support for panic and bigotry that way. The people involved can’t vite. So it is of limited political value.

    It is clear the current system lacks proportionality and due process that typify just and effective laws. Suggestion: A manual labor visa and making the offense for immigration violations without any criminal history a stiff fine.

    We obviously demand their labor and we should encourage people who are economically productive to stay here.

  • So you are saying that the first amendment doesn’t apply to Muslims? You are a bit confused here in what you are trying to say.

  • Wow, wonder if someone commits murder can they openly take sanctuary sensitive location. I am thinking probably not law would be enforce, I would go in and take any illegals openly taking sanctuary in a church it probably would all stop.

  • We can also make the argument for exploitation, as we “demand their labor” [at substandard wages], which creates more poverty, especially since many of them send much of their tiny wages back home. How do we balance that scale?

  • I am saying that the Church is self-serving because most the illegal immigrants entering the Country without any verifiable documentation are Christians. If there were 12 illegal islamists coming into this Country without signing the guest list or providing any verifiable documentation, I cannot see the Church being so generous with their offer. Where does the 1st Amendment fit into this?

  • First Amendment is the basis of church sanctuary. It is a religious practice and tradition whether recognized by local law or not. Your use of tbe word islamicists appears either incorrect or inflammatory. I will give you a benefit of a doubt here.

    If the illegal aliens were 12 million Muslims, and there is a religious tradition of sanctuary in mosques (I am not aware of any), then the situation would be the same.

    The animosity of the public to a given faith is not really relevant here.

  • That is a ridiculous argument. The remittances do not create more poverty since obviously they are sending back surplus after having enough to live on. The solution is a manual labor visa. Exploitation depends on fear of deportation.

    We demand their labor because most Americans don’t want that kind of work. Best example was the agriculture work debacle in Alabama. They drove illegal aliens out if the state but could not find Americans willing to do the work available.

  • As a Christian, I am bound to obey the Law in the country in which we live, Scripture tells us this. We have the right to change the law, but we have to do it within that system. In our country, a democracy, we have the means to that, and it was done at the last election, whereby Trump was elected President! ANY other way, such as riots, stopping anyone from speaking, destruction of property, cannot be allowed, as they are considered ANARCHIST, SEDITION, and is subject to HARSH PUNISHMENT under the LAW!! When you allow this to happen, you are contributing to the DOWNFALL of this country!! As a Christian and a Veteran, I or We love our country and what these churches are doing is WRONG!! We need to stand up for our Lord Jesus Christ and our Country, NOW !! OBEY THE LAW !!!!!

  • operating an organized crime syndicate, in human trafficking is a serious offence.

    and religions, only have freedom of religion as long as they are operating under us law. and is a slap in the face, for legal immigrants.

    violation of public immigration law 414 criminal statutes, is not like a civil offense but is a serious crime as they do not have the same rights as legal us citizens or immigrants.

    illegal immigrants. have brought with them murder, robbery, theft, drug traffickers, rape, kidnapping, arson, tb and other diseases.

    even the california fire, that killed so many and caused extensive property damage was wantonly started by an illegal immigrant. the purpose for the immigration law, is to weed out the potential danger for the safety and security of legal us citizens and immigrants.

    all organizations, groups, businesses, citizens and legal immigrants are required to operate under the criminal and civil laws of the many states.

    if you aid and abet, any illegal immigrant who commits a crime. then you are guilty for aiding and abetting their crimes. no different than if you, aid and abet any criminal.

    really getting tired of those, who believe they are above the law. and especially aid and abet, others operating outside the criminal and civil laws.

  • the first amendment, only applies to legal us citizens and legal visitors and legal immigrants.

    and public law 414 section f, is most specific about any group, cult, enemy, criminal, or religion that is hostile to the united states government and the constitution.

    so yes any member of any group, that shouts death to america and death to americans are hostile immigrants not legal immigrants.

    and all you, have done is prove your ignorance under the law. and ignorance of the law, is never an excuse for violating or not supporting it.

  • illegal immigrants, jeopardize the number of legal sponsored work visas and legal immigration. and has severely impacted, the sponsored work visa program. i know a few people, who are here on sponsored work, and exchange student visas.

  • and according to scripture, even the church is required to obey the laws of the land they reside. so to enter, this nation illegally, is a sin religiously. whether it be under Noachide or Yehoodaeech law.

    The Constitution of The United States, is under authorization of Noachide laws from ELOHEEM. as the bill of rights, makes this even more G-D given clear. so nobody but ELOHEEM, can rescind them.

  • there is more vacant land in russia than in the usa. so why do you not see, russia accepting them?

    nor are any of these illegal immigrants, from their south allowed to stay in mexico. so why are they not allowed to stay, in any other south or central american country?

    so why are they coming here illegally, unless too many americans are liberal morons, idiots, and imbeciles? why is it, that no other country south of the boarder wants them? unless the risk, to their countries is too great.

    as i, have no sympathy for cowards fleeing their own troubled country to make another country their cowardly less great.

    if they, ain’t going to fight for their own country. then the cowards, are not likely going to fight for ours.

    nor i do not appreciate, illegal aliens using this country as their social security retirement, drug trafficking, system. nor do illegal aliens pay, state and federal income taxes. and also cause the cost of increase, of apartment rental.

    and when you run a red light, or commit a murder, you can ask for a manual labor work visa so it won’t be on your record.

  • Russia accepts immigrants. Lots of them it seems!

    “Russia: The World’s Second-Largest Immigration Haven”

    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russia-the-worlds-second-largest-immigration-haven-11053

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-03-14/russia-s-alternative-universe-immigrants-welcome

    Any other overgeneralized ignorant statements you want to make?

    “so why are they coming here illegally [followed by bullcrap not worth repeating]”

    Because we want their labor but don’t have a manual labor visa which would allow them to come here legally.

    “why is it, that no other country south of the boarder wants them?”

    No work there, deadly political climate, many are coming from those places, not Mexico.

    In your defense, that is probably the least batsht insane thing you have ever posted in response to someone. Kudos.

  • Your concept of aiding and abetting is not based in actual law. If I help you with your laundry and you wear the shirt the next day to commit a murder, I haven’t aided and abetted the murder. There has to be an intent, and remaining in the country while subject to a deportation order is “illegal” but not “criminal.”
    There is no evidence that the Sonoma County wildfires of a few months ago were started by an illegal immigrant.

  • Are you going to tell that to the so-called Christians who claim they can avoid anti-discrimination laws?

  • the shirt is not the murderer. but if you, give the murderer refuge that is aiding and abetting. your, argument is idiotic.

  • i, would not exactly call former ussr citizens immigrating into the russian federation an genuine immigration.

    nor are they accepting citizens from south america, or the middle east and elsewhere in the world.

    and illegal immigration, has definitely hurt the legal work visa program. nor do illegal immigrants pay state, federal taxes, and immigration fees.

    illegal immigration, puts us citizens at risk of disease and hostility. with five murders, numerous robberies, thefts, assaults, drug traffickers, and one case of arson here in colorado. and are also a drain, on social services.

    i, do not think your brains are all there on this.

  • Your opinion on the matter is not a fact. You are still wrong on all counts here. They have immigration in large numbers.

    “nor are they accepting citizens from south america, or the middle east and elsewhere in the world.”

    Non sequitor. I am sure you had as limit which made sense bin ultra head, but it is just goody here. I won’t touch it.

    If your education and job skills is so low that you can be replaced by a menial laborer who probably doesn’t speak the language, that is a failure of our education system. Our society pretty much considers you worthless from the outset. Moreso since organized labor is pretty much dead.

    “illegal immigration, puts us citizens at risk of disease and hostility”

    But far less than native impoverished communities. Crime rates are lower among immigrant communities. Few want government law enforcement scrutiny.

    Illegal aliens don’t pay income taxes, but they are paying sales taxes and their rents pay property taxes. Most wouldn’t qualify to pay income tax if they were legally here.

    You are repeating well worn nativism screeds and pretending to be informed on the subject.

    Given most of your posts tend to be crazy nonsense I commend you here for having coherence and an actual train of though here.

  • I didn’t say one affects the other – obviously a reduction of illegal immigration will not affect the number of legal immigrants allowed. It’s the principle. I especially get riled by the militant ones who think they have a right to be here illegally. I am for stemming the flow of illegals. Other than criminals and those not contributing to society, I have no desire to see them deported. The reality is that we need significant numbers of workers in agriculture and other jobs that American workers refuse to take. I’m all for giving them documentation to remain. Trying to round up and deport millions of people is impossible.

  • Well Ben, the Law is the Law. You would have to give me an example in reference to your comments. I guess I would compare your remark of “so called Christians” to “so called Life Long Politicians who are truly working for you and I” !! REALLY are they????

  • Unfairness implies that one group is getting favor at the other’s expense. It is simply not the case.

    The problem here is we have a system which could work to alleviate the problem, but not as it stands or is enforced now. You want to stem the flow of illegals, then make their efforts legal. No wall, fence or rigorous patrols will do it any more than it did for the flow of drugs or guns (out of the country).

    Create a manual labor visa and make violation without a criminal record a stiff fine. This way productive contributing people pay their way in (which is totally OK in our current immigration system anyway) and justice is served. Nobody is being amnestied, punishment is meted out in a proportional manner. This could reduce the illegal alien population to strictly the criminals and those of little value to the society.

    ” I’m all for giving them documentation to remain. Trying to round up and deport millions of people is impossible.”

    We are in 100% agreement. 🙂

  • No they don’t.

    People here illegally largely would not be eligible for legal immigration.

    Legal sponsored work visas are based on demonstratively skilled labor and family visas are based on….wait for it……family relation to a citizen or legal resident. Illegal immigrants do not fall under either category.

    There is no “line” being jumped. Each visa category has its own limits except those dealing with refugee/asylum status or family relation to a US citizen.

    “i know a few people, who are here on sponsored work, and exchange student visas.”

    As do I. But I have some knowledge of the visa processing system and procedures. You clearly do not.

  • Immigration violations are not criminal law. Wherever you got your legal education, sue them for malpractice.

  • Actually when you look at it, that was the typical use of sanctuary for churches.

    For people who committed severe crimes and were seeking refuge from justice of the mob.

  • “We have the right to change the law, but we have to do it within that system.”

    Which those churches are doing. Sanctuary is permitted by law in the states listed in the article.
    To speak of obeying the law but lacking knowledge as to what those laws are is either dishonest or just plain foolish. When you demand that people follow rules out of ignorance and without any sense of justice, you are not protecting our country and free way of life, you are destroying it.

    Rule of law does not exist in a vacuum. Just laws are proportional and provide due process. They are followed and accepted as such. Unjust laws, ineffective laws, laws which produce oppressive results are not ones worthy of being followed in a free society. They must be protested, they must be changed. They are not to be followed blindly, without question. That is not what a free people do.

  • It doesn’t surprise me that you can’t follow a simple legal analogy and thought the shirt was allegedly aiding and abetting. You are the reason jury selection has peremptory strikes.

  • Where in the Constitution does it say the Church of Mosque has the right to ignore the law regarding those who have come into the Country illegally. Religion is always self serving. I am an atheist and I have befriended illegal aliens in my neighbor, but that does not give them the legal right enter the Country without signing the guest list on the way in and provide verifiable documentation. That is how it works in every Country today.

  • A church, even local law enforcement, have no duty to turn people over to ICE. That is actually federal law on the issue. Only the federal government and those authorized by them have the power to enforce federal law.

    It’s not so much the churches really shield them it’s more ICE doesn’t want the PR nightmare of forcibly removing people from a church and they tend to lack the proper warrants to do it as well.

    ICE typically has 4th Amendment issues when dealing with places other than residences and workplaces

  • You brought up the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause together read: “ Congress shall make no law [respecting an establishment] of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… ” — The law does not have to respect the establishment, but free exercise of religion does not give the OK to go against the establishment of law.

  • Sanctuary is not what you think it means. I brought up the first amendment because sanctuary is a fairly specific sectarian religious custom. It is not a law or rule, it is a practice.

    Sanctuary or not, the federal government can always go into a church and arrest somebody. But they need to follow the proper due process to do so. In most cases, they simply don’t or won’t bother. Plus it is still a huge PR flap if they do it. Likely to be counterproductive to their efforts in the future.

    In addition local and state law enforcement have no power to enforce immigration law unless its both voluntary and specifically authorized by the federal government. That is simply following Federal laws here. Sanctuary cities are perfectly legal. Sanctuary churches are as well. If ICE simply does its job within the rules it has, then there is no problem.

    Please educate yourself about the actual laws in question instead of going through the “Judge Dredd Argument” of “The law is the law”.

  • I don’t think illegals hiding in a church qualify as that type of sanctuary. If I worked for ICE I would go and get them.

  • You would be incorrect. Church Sanctuary traditionally used to be given to people accused (or clearly guilty) of a lot worse transgressions than immigration violations. Typically accused murderers and thieves. I am not going to pretend an illegal alien is on the same level of transgression as a murderer or a thief.

    ICE is notoriously lazy when it comes to due process. Their PR is already in the toilet for playing fast and loose with the 4th Amendment. Their latest effort shows how little effort they are giving to going after actual threats to communities such as human traffickers and violent immigrant criminal gangs.

    ” If I worked for ICE I would go and get them.”

    Given your posting history, if you showed a glimmer of understanding of our immigration system and laws I would be greatly surprised.

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