During last Sunday's Time for All Ages in the worship service, Robin Slaw told us about a farmer who continually had to reply to events that “It could be good. It could be bad. We’ll see.” As a congregation declaring itself a sanctuary, we might face the same dilemma as that farmer. It could be good. It could be bad. We’ll see. But the overwhelming event for us is that becoming a sanctuary is a statement of who we are, what we stand for. Not only could that be good. It is good.
Hosting (legally called harboring) an undocumented immigrant is illegal under section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. (It could be bad.) However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) current stated policy is that churches, schools and hospitals are “sensitive locations” where ICE agents will not enter except in exigent circumstances, for example a threat to national security or the destruction of evidence. (It could be good.) However, policies are subject to change. (It could be bad.) In most situations, ICE still needs a judge-signed warrant to enter any premises. (It could be good.) The last persons to be arrested, prosecuted and convicted of harboring an undocumented immigrant seeking asylum were two nuns in Texas in the 1980’s during the civil unrest in El Salvador. Prosecutions since have related to businesses employing undocumented immigrants. (We’ll see.)