With sanctuary cities and states like San Francisco and California not so surprisingly challenging President Donald Trump’s tough-on-immigration policies, an unexpected “sanctuary church” has just popped up in the Bible Belt state of South Carolina to protect illegal aliens from deportation.
Clayton Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church (CMUUC) has become the first official sanctuary church in the Palmetto State – pioneering another questionable and controversial way for illegal immigrants to evade authorities.
Church breaking the law
The congregation of 15 at the church located on a “quiet side” of Newberry County recently voted to make their worship center a safe haven for a number of “carefully chosen” undocumented illegal immigrants who were ordered to be deported from the United States.
“We don’t know who’s going to be referred to us and how that … process is all going to work yet,” CMUUC board member Sam Stone noted, according to WOLO TV of Columbia, South Carolina. “That’s part of the work in process.”
CMUUC will not only provide a safe haven during church hours. In fact, it is in the process of making fulltime living accommodations for illegals breaking the law by remaining in the U.S.
“Their fellowship hall will be transformed into a living space for one to two people,” WOLO TV’s Angela Rogers informed. “The immigrant would be unable to leave the sanctuary church without running the risk of being arrested, but the church will provide the space, meals and [other services].”
CMUUC Treasurer Marsha DeRosier claims that her church is doing the moral thing by sheltering illegals from the law.
“We’re not doing it because it’s political, because it’s noteworthy, because it’s controversial,” DeRosier insisted. “We’re doing it because we think it’s the right thing to do – and we’re able to do it.”
Providing shelter is not the only assistance CMUUC is offering to illegal aliens.
“Along with basic needs, the congregation also intends to provide help the illegal immigrants with immigration attorneys to overturn the deportation orders,” WND reported.
More protection under sanctuary churches?
Many are well-aware of what sanctuary cities and states are, but few are very familiar with exactly what a sanctuary church is.
“A Sanctuary Church means that they will allow undocumented immigrants who have deportation orders – meaning they are already in the system going through the legal process, to take refuge at the church, but the logistics of exactly how this will work is still quite foggy,” WOLO TV reported.
Some believe that a sanctuary church offers even more protection for illegals from local or state authorities than what officials over designated sanctuary cities and states can offer immigrants.
“Sheriff Lee Foster says a sanctuary church is very different from a sanctuary city,” WOLO TV’s Angela Rogers pointed out. “The county and the city does not support harboring undocumented immigrants, but local law enforcement will be unable to act if an undocumented immigrant does take refuge in the church – since that is under federal jurisdiction.”
It was stressed, however, that just because a church provides a so-called safe harbor for illegals slated for deportation, they are still by no means immune from being brought to justice under the law.
“But it still does not make it legal,” Foster insisted, according to WOLO TV. “And just because they feel like they have sympathy for what people are going through does not make it legal – and for them to be able to circumvent the laws of this country.”
Even though numerous raids – often sweeping up and deporting dozens or hundreds of illegals at a time – have been administered across the U.S. by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Forster stressed that he is fairly certain that the federal agency will not take action against the church and go after its harbored immigrants.
There are a number of venues where Illegals are generally more protected from federal agents.
“According to church leaders, ICE generally avoids arrests in sensitive locations – like a church, hospital or educational institution,” Rogers informed.
One Hispanic speaking to the local television station contended that the church is doing what has been accepted for centuries.
“I understand that our Forefathers broke laws – English laws to be able to found this country,” Ricardo Castillo told WOLO TV. “The very foundation of this country because they broke laws.”
An illegal trend in the Church?
Even though CMUUC is the first sanctuary church in its state, it is not the first of its kind in America.
“This is the first sanctuary church in South Carolina, but there are many across the country ,” Rogers noted. “According to Church World Services, the number of sanctuary churches have doubled to 800 since President Trump has taken office.”
After a church in Texas gave illegals identification cards earlier this year to help protect them from deportation, a Catholic church in Baltimore, Maryland, recently followed suit.
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore hopes the cards will help people without government ID cards feel safe asking police for help,” The Huffington Post reported. “Baltimore police have agreed to recognize identification cards that the city’s Catholic churches issue to undocumented immigrants and other vulnerable residents.”
With Baltimore officials recently allocating millions of taxpayer dollars to pay for attorney fees to help illegals fight deportation, the city is also supportive of its churches harboring those breaking the law by remaining in the U.S.
“Baltimore’s mayor, Catherine Pugh, said the Parish ID program is meant to help Baltimore residents who don’t have government-issued identification feel comfortable calling the police if they become victims of a crime,” The Huffington Post’s Carol Kuruvilla recounted.
Pugh told the media at a press conference about the steps that Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Baltimore was taking to harbor illegal aliens.
“This effort will help us strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and some of our most vulnerable populations,” Pugh expressed Wednesday, as posted on her Facebook page. “No one should become a victim and be afraid to call the police.”
The Catholic Church – with its many Hispanic adherents – is behind the program.
“The Parish ID program is the result of efforts from community activists and Catholic charity organizations,” Kuruvilla noted. “The initiative has the ‘full weight’ of the Archdiocese of Baltimore behind it, Archbishop William E. Lori said at the press conference.”
The archbishop has championed the Catholic Church’s efforts to harbor illegals as something commendable, insisting that it is saving so-called victims from unfair or unjust treatment.
“This ID provides one avenue to freedom from fear,” Lori contended, according to The Huffington Post.