NC churches training to offer refuge to immigrants facing deportation
Posted September 16
Chapel Hill, N.C. — People of faith across the Triangle are coming together this weekend in hopes of providing sanctuaries for immigrants.
The two-day conference is training churches on how to offer refuge for immigrants at risk of deportation, and the movement has already gained traction in North Carolina.
“I mean, it’s really what we believe in and what our faith compels us to do, which is welcome our neighbors and show them hospitality,” said Jeannie Belle with the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Belle spent Saturday talking to local clergy members about sanctuaries, like the kind where Minerva Cisneros Garcia lives.
“I was seeking for security and education for my son,” Garcia said.
Garcia is one of three immigrants facing deportation who have found refuge in a North Carolina church. In June, she and her two small children, along with an adult son who is blind, moved into the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a policy that bars agents from making arrests at churches and schools.
Pastor Julie Peeples said Garcia is taking classes online and her children are enrolled in school.
“Minerva Garcia is incredibly strong. She’s doing well,” Peeples said. “It’s heart-wrenching, so we really do need more and more congregations to join us.”
That is why Peeples was at the United Church of Chapel Hill on Saturday, making the case for immigrant sanctuaries.
Susan Steinberg, the church’s head of staff, wants to open her own doors.
“We’re just becoming more and more aware of the injustices and inconsistencies and very human cost of policy decisions and policy changes and honestly policy chaos,” Steinberg said.
Advocates of immigrant sanctuaries say they are not hiding anyone. They said churches make authorities aware that they are taking in an immigrant who is at risk of deportation.