San Diego Church Offers Sanctuary To Immigrants Facing Deportation
As San Diego County Supervisors are preparing to vote on whether to join the fight against California’s Sanctuary laws, a San Diego church announced Tuesday it will provide its own sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation.
Dozens of faith leaders and community members joined together in unity and song at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Hillcrest, vowing to protect and stand with immigrants who are working to fight their deportation cases in court.
"Love, prepare me to be a sanctuary," they sang, huddled together in the church courtyard.
“As a sanctuary congregation we know that this is one tool of many that is engaged with people who are considered immigrants,” said Kathleen Owens, pastor of the 700-member church. “And if there’s someone here without any other background problems but have an active order of deportation and are awaiting their day in court, they — with their lawyers — can come here and receive sanctuary while they are waiting for the court justice system.”
Owens emphasized being a sanctuary is not about providing a safe house for anyone trying to avoid immigration enforcement.
Church members said the family or individual will be provided a room to sleep in, along with showers and a kitchen. Congregation members will provide meals and other aid.
“We can house one person or a small family at a time and be with them as their case goes through court,” Owens said. “Hopefully it would end well, and when they leave, then we would be open to another.”
Owens said their effort is also about standing up to local, state and federal lawmakers.
“It’s about calling on Congress to fix our immigration system,” she said. “It’s about calling our values of respect and dignity, justice and compassion and human relations into our immigration policies."
The church is also calling on the San Diego County Supervisors to be humanitarian and reject the lawsuit against California’s sanctuary laws when they vote on April 17.
"We’re calling on our county supervisors to be more humanitarian than legalistic," Owens said. "Do not join the lawsuit against California."
The church is already involved in other social justice ministries, including volunteering with a rapid response network that reports immigration enforcement and visiting with detainees in Otay Mesa.