The Trump administration’s stance against illegal immigrants and the threat of deportation has revived the sanctuary movement of the 1980’s. There are new trends though which makes the movement one for our times.
Muslims are part of the movement now. While the majority of the participants are still Christian, as was the beginning of the movement in the United States, Jews are also involved. As to be expected, white evangelicals who are loyal to Mr. Trump feel strongly deportation is warranted and of course do not participate. That is also true for some Jewish organizations. Those who do participate, however, offer shelter and aid to prevent deportation. For them, it may be part of an expression of faith, or part of their spiritual journey. They willingly and knowingly take the risk of being accused, convicted and jailed of transporting aliens or of a similar charge because they believe the deportation policy as it now exists is morally wrong.
It is usually too late to intervene once ICE officers are there, often though what happens is that the particular location where an arrest might be made is declared a sanctuary. Then people are called in to hold a prayer meeting thus making its sanctuary status actual as well as official and making it off limits to the officers who cannot enter a place of worship.
So many groups and people are now involved and the movement is becoming so well organized that regional clusters are being formed. The most striking trend, however, is that some organizations are participating in a new kind of Underground Railroad transporting people to Canada.
As the resistance to harmful policies continues, another thing to be noted is that traditional religions seems to be moving out of their own confines and focusing more deeply on compassion, caring, goodwill, practicing and perhaps redefining a higher meaning of love.