SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA Tuesday, December 6, 2016, leaders from 30 congregations held an event at the Church of the Redeemer to announce that 13 Minnesota churches plan to become “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants, including those sought by police.
The announcement stems from fears over President-elect Donald Trump’s statements regarding deportation of illegal immigrants during and after the election season. Comparing themselves to the “Underground Railroad” system during the years of US slavery, the religious leaders did not detail exactly how long they would house the people, nor the plan’s logistics. One leader, Rev. Mark Vinge of the House of Hope Lutheran Church in New Hope, told the Pioneer Press: “That’s unknown, but we know that the Lord will guide us.”
All the churches pledging sanctuary to illegal immigrants are part of ISAIAH, a non-profit faith-based social and economic justice organization based in St. Paul. Other churches have offered to help with the efforts by providing food, hygiene products, money, clothing and prayer vigils.
The group is also looking for legal counsel, stating: “We’re also seeking legal counsel to understand (our rights),” said the Rev. Grant Stevenson, an ISAIAH staff member. “What we know for sure is that standing on our faith we cannot allow families to be torn apart because someone ran for president on a platform of hate.” (Pioneer Press)
The move by the churches follows the movement by mayors of “sanctuary cities” across the country. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges recently pledged to fight against Trump’s immigration policies when she told KSTP: “If police officers were to do the work of ICE it would harm our ability to keep people safe and solve crimes. Witnesses and victims of crimes won’t come forward if they think our police officers will question or detain them about their immigration status. Our ordinance has helped us solve crime and keep communities safer. If our police were doing the work of ICE, Minneapolis would be less safe for everyone, regardless of immigration status.” (Alpha News)
The University of Minnesota President has also responded to a petition by students and immigration advocates asking that the university protect illegal immigrants facing potential deportation by not cooperating with immigration officials (ICE). As Alpha News recently reported, Kaler stated: “‘I want to assure you that the University’s senior leadership team and I are firmly committed to the safety of all of our students, including immigrants and undocumented students,’ Kaler wrote in prepared statement, ‘And we will advocate for them to be able to attend the University and continue their studies uninterrupted.”