ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Sanctuary Movement Fights Against Homeland Security

Updated on March 7, 2017

The New Sanctuary Movement Fights U.S. Oppression

In El Salvador, the military killed over 10,000 people by 1980, including the famous Archbishop Oscar Romero and four U.S. churchwomen. They were killed in a highly structured and effective dirty war in which the Americans were closely involved. The extent of CIA involvement in the death of Romero will never be known.

What is known is that American trained “death squads” did much of the killing. This was done under Ronald Reagan who, today, is considered a saint by many.

In opposition, the Sanctuary Movement, which was a religious and political campaign in the United States that began in the early 1980s to provide safe-haven for Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict, was born. It responded to federal immigration policies that made obtaining asylum difficult for Central Americans.

At its peak, Sanctuary involved over 500 congregations in the United States that declared themselves official “sanctuaries.”

I am proud to say that I was arrested opposing U.S. involvement in mass murder in El Salvador. More importantly, perhaps, as chair of the social concerns committee of a Unitarian Church in the Los Angeles area, I worked with the minister to get the congregation to give sanctuary to a couple from El Salvador.

Henry Zalada and his wife were in California. If they had been found by U.S. government agents and sent back to El Salvador they would have been tortured and killed because Henry was a critic of the government in his native land. We gave them shelter at our church. Eventually they would find a permanent residence and become American citizens.

In defying the U.S. government we at the Unitarian church were aware that individually we were subject to fines of $2,000 and up to 5 years in jail. Why did we risk these penalities?

What is the basis for the motivation of the 1980’s sanctuary movement? For most, it was based on the teachings of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam where God gives preferential treatment to the poor and the oppressed. The Bible is full of examples where shelter is given by God’s people to the oppressed, the “least amongst us.” In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus instructs his followers to welcome the stranger and he says, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” People are not “illegals,” which objectifies them. Rather they are God’s beloved children.

Today, in the news, is the following story that has become a topic of national conversation: “PHOENIX, Feb 9 (Reuters) - An Arizona mother of two who lived in the United States for more than 20 years was deported to Mexico on Thursday, becoming one of the first to be swept up in the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants in the United States, her attorney and family said.”

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, was taken to Nogales, Mexico, on Thursday morning by U.S. immigration staff, her attorney Ray Ybarra-Maldonado told a news conference. Both of her American-born children and her husband remained in the United States.

What is missing in the news is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement last year, under President Obama, carried out more than 72,000 deportations of parents who said they had U.S.-born children, according to reports to Congress.

Donald Trump, through an executive order, has given much more power to ICE to deport undocumented immigrants. He says it is a "military operation. Rayos is perhaps the first victim of ICE activities under Trump.

Now the “New Sanctuary Movement” is in full swing. What is somewhat different from the movement 30 years ago is the emphasis on family values. That term from the religious right tended to mean a heterosexual coupling with children, often connected to anti-abortion and anti-gay memes. Today, the term has been appropriated by the sanctuary movement to mean a family’s connection with the divine family, expanding the circle of religious concern to religious families. But the themes we used in the 1980’s are still powerful.

It is difficult to see how so-called Christians like Obama and Trump could sanction tearing families apart and thereby cause great anguish and suffering. The hatred of immigrants and refugees displayed by many Trump voters is at odds with God’s dream of love for all humanity. Trump’s raging at Mexican undocumented people wounds the human heart.

Back in the day, I was in jail with Chris Kristofferson and Jackson Brown fighting for immigrant’s rights. Amazingly, Kristofferson kept up with Browne as they rapped together. Maybe I’ll see them there again. Want to join us?

You might start by contacting the Society of Friends (Quakers) or the Roman Catholic Church in your area. Often the United Church of Christ, The Presbyterian, and Episcopal churches are involved. Your local Jewish temple or Muslim Mosque might be involved in the Sanctuary Movement.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)