Bill Ramsey, coordinator of this region’s Congregations Sanctuary Working Group (CSWG), recently shared some news about the growth of this movement as the authorities become more aggressive in their detention and deportation efforts.
Two more congregations in NC have provided active sanctuary to endangered immigrants. A second sanctuary in Greensboro was established, as Minerva Cisneros Garcia, mother of three children, from Winston Salem, entered sanctuary at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro on June 29. The first sanctuary in Greensboro was initiated when Juana Luz Tobar Ortega from Asheboro, mother of four grown children and a grandmother, entered sanctuary at St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church in Greensboro on May 31. A third sanctuary was launched when Pastor Jose Chicas, a father of four children, from Raleigh, entered sanctuary at the Conversion School in Durham on July 5.
In addition, a new pattern has developed in recent weeks. While our immigrant neighbors are required to show up for what in the past have been more or less routine ICE check-ins, they are increasingly being detained at the check-in or given a deportation date at the meeting.
In response, some congregations are establishing a service of accompanying immigrants to their scheduled ICE check-ins, to witness this new tactic of Federal authorities. In addition, support can be provided for the families of those detained. Reverend Hilario Cisneros reported, at a recent CSWG meeting, that his congregation, La Capilla de Santa Maria in Hendersonville, has decided to take on the role of providing support and sanctuary to family members left behind by detentions and deportations.
The Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting has declared its support for the sanctuary movement; members and attenders may wish to discern whether this support includes the measures of accompaniment and left-behind family assistance.