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Immigration Law

Austin Unitarians Provide Sanctuary to Immigrant

"If federal immigration agents want to send Sulma Franco back to Guatemala, they will have to get through the Rev. Chris Jimmerson and other worshipers at Austin’s First Unitarian Universalist Church.

“We will resist it. We will invite a bunch of people with their yellow T-shirts to try and stand between [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and Sulma,” Jimmerson said, referring to gear the church's immigrant-rights supporters wear. “This is private church property, and it’s a tradition that law enforcement, including ICE, don’t [enter].”

Immigrants seeking safe haven in U.S. churches isn’t new. The movement was in full force decades ago when Central Americans across the country sought shelter, and the effort was rebranded last year after Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform and the Obama administration continued deporting people at record levels.

But Franco’s story adds a new dimension to the movement: Being a lesbian, she says, will place a target on her back if she is forced to return home." - Julián Aguilar, Texas Tribune, June 11, 2015.