[Vision2020] Our Sanctuary Cities have a Sacred History
ngier006 at gmail.com
Fri Sep 15 12:12:04 PDT 2017
This is a slightly longer version of the column that appeared in the Daily
News yesterday. It will be published in the Sandpoint Reader next
Thursday. The full version is attached.
To those who insist that we always follow the law in immigration matters, I
side with Charles Dickens' Mr. Bumble who said that sometimes "the law is
My partner Cheryl Miller-Arndt and I will be doing the service at the
Unitarian Church on this topic on September 24 at 10 AM.
On September 30 the Latah Human Rights Task Force will have a table at the
Farmer's Market and I invite you to check it out.
In addition, the Moscow Human Rights Commission holding several more events
on the topic of refugees.
*Thursday September 21st 7:00*-8:30 pm Great Room 1912 Center, Moscow
Speaker: Refugee Resettlement: Policies and Issues
Join us for a discussion of refugee resettlement issues and policies. Our
speaker is Slobodanka Hodzic, Program Director of the Agency for New
Americans in Boise.
*Saturday September 30th 7:00-9:00 *pm Great Room 1912 Center, Moscow
Racial Equality and Inclusive Communities Potluck Dinner
Join us for the conclusion of Racial Equality and Inclusive Communities
Month for a city potluck dinner. Bring your favorite dish to share, or just
bring yourself. All are welcome. Please label you dish and to be as
inclusive as possible please no pork dishes. Also, try to avoid nut dishes
due to possible allergies.
Please try to attend and support this efforts,
*Our Sanctuary Cities have a Sacred History*
The people of the Ancient Middle East practiced radical
hospitality, and the Israelites were no exception: “When a stranger
sojourns in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who
sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall
love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:33-34).
The medieval church offered asylum to all those who sought it, as long as
criminals confessed their sins. They were given forty days to decide
whether to stand trial or go into permanent exile. Today churches are
bringing back this Judeo-Christian tradition, and about 800 of them are now
offering refuge to those who need protection.
This year immigration rights activist Jeanette Vizguerra was honored by *Time
*magazine as one of the world’s most influential people. She has lived and
worked in the U.S. for 20 years, but she is undocumented. In February,
facing deportation, she was offered sanctuary in Denver’s First Unitarian
On May 5, with the aid of Colorado’s three Democratic Representatives,
Vizguerra was given a two-year “stay of removal,” and she has now been
reunited with her children and grandchildren. These Democrats were also
instrumental in the release of Arturo Hernandez, who had lived in the same
church for nine months.
Javier Flores’ only crimes are that he is undocumented and has a
10-year-old DUI conviction. He has been living in Philadelphia’s Arch
Street United Methodist Church for almost a year. Flores, a father of
three, works on church projects from within the safety of church.
said that “*you have to keep fighting and I'm doing this for my kids.” *
*The Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix is temporary home to
Sixto Paz and Ismael Delgado. Paz, father of four American citizens (two
are college graduates), has lived and worked in the U.S. since 1985, and he
has paid taxes 28 of those years. He says that he has a clean record and
that he is “working hard to do the best.” *
Immigration authorities have a legal right to enter any building to arrest
people, but they have avoided churches. Cornell law professor Stephen
explains: “I think for publicity reasons, immigration officers do not like
to go into churches.” Sacred sanctuary principles obviously still have
The contemporary sanctuary movement is different from the medieval
requirement of confession of sins and a deadline for a trial. The latter
point is moot because, as far as I know, these churches do not harbor
Nevertheless, pastors who refuse to hand over the undocumented are
committing acts of civil disobedience. They believe that a greater harm is
done if immigrant families are broken up because of deportation.
These Christians believe that such an exile would violate the biblical
injunction to love and comfort the foreigner. Quite apart from religious
beliefs, I agree with Charles Dicken’s Mr. Bumble who said that sometimes
“the law is an ass.”
Secular authorities in the 600-plus sanctuary cities and counties have at
least two arguments for non-compliance. First, immigration enforcement is a
federal prerogative, while local police are charged with enforcing their
own laws. Second, local police contend that if they do a general dragnet of
the undocumented, they will lose important sources of intelligence that
allow them to arrest immigrant felons in their midst.
The charge that sanctuary cities have higher crime rates is just another
example of the Trump Administration’s “fake news.” The fact is, according
to UC San Diego professor Tom K. Wong, “crime is significantly lower in
sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.”
State and local officials are confident that the courts will back them up,
and on April 25, Trump’s executive order threatening to withhold federal
funds from sanctuary cities was blocked. Federal Judge William Orrick ruled
that “only Congress can place such conditions on spending.”
On August 30, a district court judge ruled that a Texas law imposing fines
on local authorities who refuse to cooperate with immigration agents may
well be unconstitutional. He wrote that the plaintiffs had provided
“overwhelming and ample evidence that cooperating with immigration
officials will erode public trust and make many communities and
neighborhoods less safe.”
In conclusion, it is important to note that the Declaration of Independence
follows Leviticus in making no difference between the “native” and the
“non-native.” Its central principle is a philosophical statement about
human nature in general: namely, that all human beings regardless of origin
have an “inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Nick Gier taught religion and philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31
years. Read his recent columns at www.sandpointreader.com under Columns.
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.
“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understanding!—that is the motto of enlightenment.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Size: 160851 bytes
Desc: not available
More information about the Vision2020