Four Syracuse-area churches are joining together to open their doors to undocumented immigrants and refugees who fear federal immigration actions. Father Fred Daley of All Saints Roman Catholic Church says policy changes have not been made to help immigrants, regardless of their status. He also blames Washington with spreading false fears and stereotypes.
“The president and his administration continually connect immigration and crime. Yet the American Immigration Council innumerable studies have confirmed that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, are less likely to commit serious crime or be behind bars than the native born.”
Plymouth Church in Syracuse has a long history of offering sanctuary. Church Moderator Abby Hind says the congregation will take on even legal challenges.
“As part of the new sanctuary coalition, we join those who will open up our congregation and communities as sanctuary spaces for those targeted by hate, and work alongside our friends, families, and neighbors to ensure dignity and human rights of all people.”
Other members of the CNY Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition are Saint Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church and University United Methodist Church. They’ve agreed to educate themselves about immigration issues … and advocate for reform. Congregation members will also accompany people to hearings and create sanctuary residences if needed. Father Daley notes the history of this cause.
“The Underground Railroad came into being to help slaves flee the south, and find sanctuary in many congregations. Most recently in the 1980's, refugees fleeing from civil wars in Central America were offered sanctuary by over 500 congregations throughout the country.”
Faith communities have also opened their doors to conscientious objectors who had been drafted for the Vietnam War, and to members of the LBGTQ community who have also sought safe haven.
Father Daley says this new coalition could grow … and was modeled after similar partnerships in other cities.
Coalition members have committed themselves to the following principles:
- Educate themselves and the community about immigration-related issues.
- Advocate for justice and comprehensive humane immigration reform.
- Accompany and support immigrants and their families, at their request, when facing immigration- related hearings or meetings.
- Support immigrant residents in sanctuary.