The Church and the Undocumented Immigrants
In the earliest days of Mosaic Church, one of our members was issued a traffic ticket. Later we learned he was undocumented. A year or so after this incident, he received a second citation from local police, who discovered that he'd had a fraudulent driver's license obtained with a fake Social Security number.
In every other way, the individual was a law-abiding member of the community and a follower of Christ. Yet he soon received a letter from the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services requiring him to leave the country within 30 days. However, he chose to ignore the letter and remain in Little Rock.
The Sanctuary Movement and the Undocumented Immigrants
The Sanctuary Movement conceived during the 1980s, when churches took in refugees from Central America fleeing American-funded civil wars, has been rebirthed this year. More than 100 congregations are supporting moral action to help our undocumented brothers and sisters in need. Here’s what you need to know about the movement:
1. Sanctuary is old news — like, back when scrolls were what you read, not what you do through your twitter feed.
Sanctuary is when faith communities offer safe havens — and they’ve been doing that from the beginning of the Old Testament, to the times of slavery and the Underground Railroad, to housing Jews during WWII, to the draft during the Vietnam War.
In fact, Sanctuary 2014 was inspired by a church in Arizona that successfully kept a family together this year (more on that below). That church — Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson — actually founded the official Sanctuary Movement 30 years ago
Can you be arrested in a Church?
The nuns in Catholic school taught us there was such a thing as sanctuary—the police cannot arrest a suspect in a church. Does this concept have a basis in law, or is it just a social custom that can be discarded on a whim? —Rich Illing
The nuns in Catholic school taught us lots of things. I remember being told all motorists had to yield the right of way to post office trucks, which, being federal, ruled the road. The sisters’ teachings on sanctuary were equally well-founded. Yes, the notion of sanctuary has a historical basis, but for anyone thinking it’s a modern get-out-of-jail-free card, think again.