Churches could give refuge to illegal immigrants

La Voz (Spanish Newspaper)
June 13, 2007

A group of religious activists in Arizona is studying the possibility of offering sanctuary in churches to help families who are facing the deportation process.

Magdalena Schwartz, member of the group Interfaith for Coalition Worker Justice, said that the group looks for families who live frightened of possible deportation and separation and offers them assistance and legal council.

“We know that it is going to be difficult to establish a sanctuary in Arizona, especially around the anti-immigrant feeling that there is in the state,” said Schwartz.

According to Schwartz, there are several churches, particularly in Phoenix, that would be willing to provide refuge to immigrants, although she did not mention which ones for fear of possible retaliation or monitoring by immigration authorities.

“We want the North American towns to take account of the tragedy in which these working families, men and women live, that carry a clean life in this country, whose only crime has been to cross the border in an illegal way,” emphasized Schwartz.

Although Schwartz recognized that this initiative is not easy to carry out in a state where anti-immigrant feelings are very strong, “we want to change the image of undocumented people away from the image presented by those who often characterize them as criminals.”

“We want the people to see that the undocumented people are men and women, often with children born in this country, who put up with the worst treatment in order to give their families a better life,” Schwartz concluded.


  1. Churches need to be very careful about becoming too intimately involved with this illegal immigration issue. Their tax exempt status can be brought into question if they blatantly thrust themselves into this obvious political, not religious, issue.

  2. There is no need to offer refuge to immigrants. There is no REASON to offer refuge to ILLEGAL entrants.

    Immigrants are not breaking any laws. Why does this group talk about immigrants when what they mean are ILLEGAL immigrants? I’ll tell you why, because they want to confuse the issue. They want to silently deny that there is every reason to be inhospitable to people who have entered our nation illegally and every right to pursue them with law enforcement.

    Will the church be offering refuge to burglars, rapists, embezzlers, and so forth soon? There’s no difference.

    And for those who love to further confuse the situation by crying “racisim,” I say, “Send the illegal Irish home first!”

  3. Iris Lynch says

    Better, send them ALL to church. We could finally get a count.

  4. Frank Soto says

    Based on my previous comments, this will come as no suprise to many, but I would support this. Further, I would support Churches housing the burglars, rapists, etc. Maybe it is the naive in me, but I like the historic notion of the Church being a place where criminals could find safe harbor. Maybe it’s the mystic Christian in me, but I like the idea of there being something ‘other’ about a Church, and it’s grounds that makes it different from other property, a place where you are not a race, criminal, sex, etc, but a sinner in need of rescue. Of course, I have no idea how this proposed sanctuary would work, but like I said, I support this historic ‘safety’ of the Church.

  5. La Voz is misidentified as a “Spanish Newspaper.” It is a Mexican newspaper in Spanish Language.
    Spain is a European country and doesn’t publish La Vos.

  6. Iris Lynch says

    Originally, sanctuary was not for ciminals, it was more ‘political’. And you might say that if it weren’t that thepolitical supports immigration and the peasants (you and I) don’t.

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