Churches Offer Sanctuary from Immigration Raids

Mar 14, 2017

Nelly Fuentes, center, and others pray at First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo Tuesday
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Religious leaders in Kalamazoo say they’ll do what they can to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation, including sheltering them at their churches.

Pastor Nathan Dannison of First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo says some churches in Kalamazoo will let people stay there if they fear being caught in a raid. He says a number of congregations can also connect people with legal services and provide child care, services Dannison said more people were likely to need.

“I think that people need to be in communication with their own pastor and they need to reach out to the leaders in their faith communities and ask them, what are we doing to care for the sojourner – the immigrant, the wanderer?” he says.

Dannison says that deporting people who are in the country without papers will split many families apart. At the First Congregational Church on Tuesday, Nelly Fuentes said it’s already happening, as she prayed for people who had been detained.

“I want to lift up the Martinez family. May they barbecue in their front yard again. And the Hernandez family, may they get their mom back. And the Perez family, may they be reunited again,” she said.

Pastor Nathan Dannison of Kalamazoo's First Congregational Church speaks on Tuesday
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

The Trump administration has opened the door to a major increase in detentions and deportations. But enforcement agencies have traditionally refrained from raiding places of worship.