“The idea of churches acting as a sanctuary or place of refuge for those in need has been around for a very long time,” she said. “Many churches began offering sanctuary to the undocumented in the 1980s and we’ve seen another resurgence since 2014.”
While Gallardo and other Faith in the Valley organizers acknowledge there is some risk involved for churches offering sanctuary to the undocumented, the odds have historically been in the congregation’s favor. Over the last 40 years, no church has been prosecuted for offering sanctuary to the undocumented, Gallardo said.
Above: Merced community organizers and residents gather in support of Building Healthy Communities #Health4All campaign in April. (Photo provided by Building Healthy Communities Merced Facebook page) By Hannah Esqueda MERCED, Calif. — As the clock winds down on 2016, Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Merced and local partner groups recently gathered to take stock of their achievements and […]
Event organizers and demonstrators braved the cold and rain last Thursday to stand outside the Merced County Administration Building, where they shared powerful testimony regarding the impact current sentencing laws have on local communities and families.
“Today, we as the faith community are doing what Congress has so far failed to do — protect our families,” said Irene Armendariz, chair with Faith in the Valley. “As the holidays draw near, our hearts are drawn to those who are kept apart and live in fear.”
“The most important thing to remember, is that you may not have papers, but you do have rights. You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to respond to immigration’s questions,” Davenport said. “If they ask where you were born or where you live, just say you’d prefer not to answer.”
The hope is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials will decide you are too much of a hassle and will not bother pursuing someone who shows they have a clear understanding of their legal rights, she said.
Dozens of audience members gathered together to plan out a brighter future for Merced while across the hall an entire row of chairs reserved for city representatives sat vacant. Each of the seats was labeled with the name of a local city, police or sheriff’s department official who had been specifically invited to the event.
“We’d like to highlight how all local law enforcement officials were invited here tonight but none of them bothered to show,” said Vanessa Zaragoza, 15, a youth activist and master of ceremonies at the Live Free event.