Sanctuary

FMC’s work with the Cambridge Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition (CISC)

 

July 1, 2017

Why should Friends join in with Sanctuary?
I have been breaking down the doors of our country’s power structure this month. I have been shaking at the foundations of white privilege each Monday. I have joined the Cambridge Interfaith coalition to illegally offer Sanctuary to Ana, a mother from Latin America.

When I volunteer with 10 other Cambridge Friends every Monday. Accompanying Ana is not strenuous. We are trained in how to act if the ‘authorities’ come to arrest Ana. There is very little worry that ICE will come knocking at the doors of the Lutheran church which houses her family. I sit in the ‘volunteer’ room and read or write or play with Ana’s 2 children.

But make no mistake. Participating in Sanctuary is justice work. It is reversing the government’s inhumane splitting of families and its unjust hegemony on the US protecting its shores for white people. When I sign up to accompany this young vibrant family, I’m lending my privilege to help those without legal rights. I’m saying to the government, you cannot take an innocent person and throw her out of our country into a dangerous situation without me standing in the way.

I can’t do Sanctuary alone. Neither can you. We pray together for God’s guidance. But as a Quaker team of 15 or 30 people we can offer protection to the innocent for a long time. Will you join us?

Please contact me, Minga, at minga@thebornes.org, if you are interested.

June, 2017

There is a great deal happening in the Sanctuary community, as we work within CISC and with other organizations in the struggle to defend undocumented immigrants from deportation and injustice.

In May there were five trainings for volunteers, and more will be coming in the summer and fall for those interested in working with the Coalition.

On June 4, 2017, at First Church Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Dr. Michael Grodin gave a lecture on Trauma and the Migration Process. Dr. Grodin is a professor of Health Law, Ethics and Human Rights at Boston University and cofounder of the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights.

Alfredo Garcia, an undocumented immigrant studying at Harvard, is working as a Field Education student with the Coalition this summer—read his story at the following link: Stuck between Two Lives. He will be coming to FMC to share his experiences at some point this summer; details will follow when available.

Opportunities will be forthcoming to work with Diego Low at Metrowest Worker Center/Casa del Trabajador/Casa Do Trabalhador in Framingham; details will follow when available. We are eager to share what we are learning in our Sanctuary work!

Please complete the Volunteer Interest Form, which is also available in the Center, in order to be kept informed of upcoming events. If you have questions, ask Susan Davies (617-876-0862), John Bach, Lynn Lazar, or Kim West.

May, 2017

FMC has joined the Sanctuary Coalition in Cambridge as a supporting congregation to University Lutheran in Harvard Square, which will house undocumented immigrants in danger of deportation. Much of the Coalition’s time and energy to date has been put into preparing for the physical sanctuary portion. This work continues, with some of the practical details still being worked out, and the timing of receiving guests into the space is yet to be determined. Subcommittees are working on the logistics of volunteer engagement and coordination within congregations and the Coalition; creation of a database of medical, legal, social worker and other services that could be available as needed; and trainings to be provided to volunteers.

Advocacy is also very much a part of the Coalition’s purpose. The two upcoming efforts/events we would like to share are:

  • The pending Safe Communities Act, which needs endorsement, and “spreading the word.” Support Safe Communities.
  • The May Day strike “Day without Immigrants” being organized by Cosecha. People of faith and places of worship will lift up the struggles of undocumented immigrants, spark conversations about our role in this moment as people of faith, support immigrant organizers, and push back on the increased enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity under the new administration. The following link provides info and a sign-up form to get involved: CosechaFe.

We would like those in the FMC community who would like to find out more about what volunteering would entail to reach out to Susan Davies, John Bach, Kim West and Lynn Lazar. Some of you have already done so, thank you. During the coffee hour at the rise of meeting on May 7, one of us will be at a table in the Friends Room, ready and eager to share information about this movement and to answer questions about getting involved.

March 13, 2017

As a result of the recently escalated anti-immigrant rhetoric and activity in the United States, the sanctuary movement has gained new life and is growing among faith congregations all over the country. Many have memories of the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980’s, during which immigrants fleeing Central America were helped into the country. This movement differs in that it is helping those who are already here in the country but do not have documentation and are therefore under threat of deportation.
Some faith congregations are offering physical housing to undocumented individuals, while others are supporting those congregations in a variety of ways. Numerous organizations are providing training and other tools to assist this effort.

The Harvard Square Churches Sanctuary Coalition has been formed in Cambridge as part of this movement, and currently consists of the following congregations.

Supporting Congregations to University Lutheran Church:

  • Cambridge Minyan
  • Harvard Divinity School Student Led Interfaith and Secular Coalition
  • Harvard Epworth United Methodist Church
  • First Church in Cambridge (UCC)
  • Old Cambridge Baptist Church
  • Eitz Chaim
  • Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quaker)

 

Four key factors that are important in Supporting Congregations.

  1. Volunteers – If guests are housed in the physical church it could require 1 to 2 people with them in the church 24 hours a day, so volunteers would need to take shifts.  If there are enough congregations in the coalition, it might mean providing volunteers for around 24 hours a day one day a week.
  2. Providing food for those given physical sanctuary – This could be a combination of supplying groceries for the guests to be able to cook for themselves and providing prepared meals.
  3. Funding that could be used to help with a variety of things including legal defense.
  4. Advocacy for those who are being threatened with deportation.

Understanding that not all congregations can provide all of these, each needs to commit to what is realistic for their community.

 

Additional information

Documents:

Links:


March 1, 2017

Sanctuary Resource

On March 1, Linda Rabben, anthropologist at University of Maryland, human rights advocate, and attender of Adelphia, MD, Friends Meeting gave a talk about the history of sanctuary movements in the United States and led a lively discussion about the 1980’s sanctuary movement and the current situation. This event was sponsored by FMC’s Friends for Racial Justice committee.

Dr. Rabben’s interest in sanctuary movements began when she was a consultant to the ACLU and asked how she, personally, could help. The ACLU put her in touch with a young woman who had been detained prior to deportation. In working to prevent that woman’s deportation, Dr. Rabben became convinced of the need to understand sanctuary movements more generally and the way our immigration-related legal system works in particular.

Her new book, Sanctuary & Asylum: A Social and Political History, explores the long history of sanctuary and analyzes modern asylum policies, contrasting them with the role that courageous individuals and organizations have played in offering refuge to survivors of torture, persecution, and discrimination.

—Barbara Scott Nelson