|In this Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 photo, Hilda Ramirez, an immigrant living illegally in the U.S, sits in the sanctuary at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church as she waits to talk to a reporter, Wednesday, in Austin, Texas. Ramirez, from Guatemala, and her son have taken refuge at the church for more than a year. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)|
IMMIGRANTS FIND SANCTUARY IN GROWING AUSTIN CHURCH NETWORK AP Photo: Eric Gay
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Senior Minister Meg Barnhouse knows she’ll need beds, a dresser, chairs and a mirror to make the classroom at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin feel more like a home for a mother and her young daughter who are still deciding whether they will become the latest immigrants seeking sanctuary from deportation by moving into a church.
It would be the second time Barnhouse’s congregation had offered sanctuary. She was hesitant in 2015 because of the unknown legal and insurance risks, but this time she agreed immediately.
There is growing fear in the city’s immigrant community as President Donald Trump’s immigration and executive orders go into effect. And as more than 50 Austin area residents were detained in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation raids last month, a growing number of churches in the Austin Sanctuary Network are volunteering to offer physical shelter or support to churches that do.
The Austin Sanctuary Network has broadened in the last year from a handful of churches and advocates to more than two dozen congregations and religious groups, three labor unions, several nonprofit groups and dozens of individual volunteers. This mirrors the loosely organized national sanctuary movement that has grown to more than 800 churches and congregations, with a good portion of those joining since Trump was elected.
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Source: News from The Associated Press
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