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Sanctuary Movement Growing in L.A. Churches

February 08, 2016 (1 min read)

Cindy Carcamo, L.A. Times, Feb. 8, 2016 - "Rev. Fred Morris is familiar with violence in Latin America.  Morris, currently leading North Hills United Methodist Church, survived detention and torture at the hands of Brazil's military dictatorship in 1974.  That's one reason Morris said he's ready to defy Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and offer his place of worship as a refuge for Central Americans facing imminent deportation to a region with escalating violence.  "We are willing to fight this tooth and nail," said Morris, 82. "If ICE wants to come get them, they're going to have to break down the church door."  Morris' congregation is one of at least three in the Los Angeles area vowing in recent weeks to offer refuge to Central Americans with deportation orders — joining what advocates say is a growing number of pastors, preachers and nuns across the country in reviving the sanctuary movement. ... Organizers are much stronger than in the 1980s, said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the nonpartisan New York-based Migration Policy Institute.  "There is much more attention and much more organizing in the communities today. The kind of activism you see now just wasn't at this level in the 1980s," he said.  Though the offering of religious sanctuary dates back to ancient times, a church doesn't offer real legal protection from federal immigration officials.  Instead, there has been an unofficial policy by ICE to avoid entering public schools, hospitals and churches to apprehend people who are in the country illegally."