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Sanctuary Movement

CCSM Sanctuary Update, August 18, 2017 – click here

Welcome!  CCSM is a Sanctuary Church.

We welcome you to look through the materials on this webpage to familiarize yourself with the New Sanctuary Movement.

What is the New Sanctuary Movement?

Calling upon the ancient traditions of our faiths, which recognized houses of worship as a refuge for the runaway slave, the conscientious objector, and the Central American refugee fleeing the civil wars of the 1980s, sanctuary is once again growing among communities of faith that are standing in solidarity with immigrants and marginalized communities facing immoral and unjust deportation and discrimination policies.

View the video below for an overview.

What are Sanctuary Cities?

Sanctuary Cities are municipalities that have adopted a policies of protecting undocumented immigrants by not prosecuting them for violating federal immigration laws in the country in which they are now living. Such a policy can be set out expressly in a law or observed only in practice. The term applies generally to cities that do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce national immigration laws, and usually forbid police or municipal employees to inquire about a person’s immigration status. The designation has no precise legal meaning.

This January 25, 2017 Wall Street Journal Article describes how Sanctuary Cities work and how President Trump’s recent executive order may affect them.

What are Sanctuary Churches?

Sanctuary Churches support the efforts of the Sanctuary Movement or are willing to open their doors to people fearing repatriation. Churches, along with schools and hospitals, are considered “Sensitive Locations” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That means federal agents will avoid arresting, searching or interviewing people there under most circumstances.

Read ICE’s 2011 Memoranda regarding its enforcement policy on Sensitive Locations.

Prior to the November presidential election, there were 400 Sanctuary Churches nationwide. Since the election, there are over 800 churches across the country now involved in creating sanctuary spaces for undocumented immigrants and people in need.

Currently, there are no Sanctuary Churches that offer physical sanctuary on the San Francisco Peninsula.

What is the UCC’s opinion on the Sanctuary Movement?

In a recent commentary, The United Church of Christ states that it “must escalate our bold and prophetic voice as we work alongside partner organizations and interfaith efforts to help protect human rights and advance unity, love, respect and dignity for all.”

Read this commentary in full and another recent article from the UCC on The Sanctuary Movement.

What does Sanctuary look like?

There are four ways that congregations are demonstrating their commitment to Sanctuary: physical sanctuary for someone facing final deportation; accompaniment of immigrant families or youth; advocacy; and networks of projection of rapid response.

Congregations that offer physical sanctuary on religious property, as a way to protect individuals from the reach of ICE, are supported by other congregations and community groups committing to be part of a local network of Sanctuary by assisting with hospitality, protection, and advocacy.

Read more about how Sanctuary is being provided.

What are the legal risks for congregations?

Those who are entering sanctuary will most likely have an opportunity to win relief from deportation. This means that they are not a high priority for deportation and that ICE can and should grant them prosecutorial discretion. In essence, the Sanctuary Movement is holding the administration accountable to their own standards and guidelines as put forth by the President’s Executive Actions.

There is risk in offering Sanctuary, however, the field practice over the last forty years shows that no congregation has been prosecuted for allowing undocumented people to find shelter and safety in their house of worship.

Read the following Sanctuary Legal Tool Kit for an opinion and FAQs.

What additional resources exist to learn more?

National Sanctuary website and toolkit:

Bay Area Organizations:

Sign the Sanctuary Pledge:

Read: The Process of Becoming a Sanctuary Church
The Process of Becoming a Sanctuary Church at Congregational Church of San Mateo (CCSM) – DRAFT


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