Some congregations have committed to opening their doors to host individuals or families at risk of deportation through the HOUSING STRATEGY. The following are some issues to address if you are considering taking this action:
- Committing to housing one or more families typically lasts for an indefinite period.
- Physical facilities, food, clothing, financial assistance, and legal assistance are provided by the congregation. Your congregation may be assisted by supportive/solidarity congregations and organizations.
- Congregations can take in who they want: some have limited sanctuary to those they know or have a connection with, or only certain groups of undocumented individuals or families. A formal vetting process needs to be put in place.
- Create family intake and agreement for service forms.
- In general, those with a final deportation order are most in need.
- Those entering into sanctuary should have a reasonable prospect for obtaining a stay of removal, order of supervision or other form of administrative relief.
- Offering sanctuary does not mean obstruction of government officials if they seek to enter the sanctuary. It may mean requesting a warrant or legal authority and creating publicity in order to sway public opinion.
- Public vs. private: Public sanctuary has a purpose of changing hearts and minds, not only to provide protection. It is not done in secret! Always make decisions about whether and how to publicize sanctuary with the individuals who are staying in your congregation and with counsel.
- Work closely with your congregation’s counsel when planning and welcoming individuals.
There are many needs in between the urgent moments of sanctuary such as: deportation defense, contact with media, advocacy within the immigrant community, and connecting needs with service providers.
Review these resources from Congregation B’nai Israel of Sacramento:
Read this memo on tax-exempt organizational law
Part of solidarity work is to get to know the other agencies and congregations that share our passion and developing working relationships with one another. This way, when urgent moments of action arise, all are prepared to act as a team.