“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.
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.”