Should churches be punished for offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants? | The Tylt
More than 800 churches across the U.S. are offering support and shelter to undocumented immigrants to protect them from deportation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a general practice of not arresting people in "sensitive areas," such as schools, hospitals, and churches. But critics say religious organizations should not be permitted to harbor lawbreakers, and argue churches who break the law should lose their tax-exempt status. Should sanctuary churches be prosecuted? ⛪
Should churches be punished for offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants?
Many churches see providing sanctuary as a moral obligation and an act of civil disobedience against laws they think are wrong. They point to the church's role in the antebellum Underground Railroad as just one example of religion standing up to authority and against injustice.
Others, including religious leaders, say churches have no right to assist people who are here illegally, and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for doing so:
“A lot of these liberal churches that harbor illegal immigrants who are criminals say they are following the example of Jesus,” Jeffress, pastor of a 12,000-member megachurch in Dallas, said during a “Fox and Friends” segment on Sunday. "The real Jesus of the Bible said, ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ That is: Obey the government.”
Some churches are actually preparing physical spaces for undocumented immigrants, as well as offering them legal aid.
But others point out the concept of sanctuary provides no real legal protection for churches or illegal immigrants—it's simply a policy that ICE does not pursue people in churches, one that can change at any time.
But those within the church sanctuary movement say religious teachings compel them to protect vulnerable people, and if that violates the law, they are ready to face the consequences.