-Photo: New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia

-Photo: New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia

New Sanctuary Movement garners more followers vowing to prevent immigrant deportations.

The Philadelphia-headquartered New Sanctuary Movement has seen 300 churches spread all over the United States openly say that they are willing to offer undocumented migrants sanctuary from immigration authorities after Donald Trump became president-elect of the United States. The Movement has popular support, with the number of supporters to the program rising from 65 volunteers to an excess of 1,000 people from the time of election.

Similar pro-migrant sentiments were echoed by Church World Service. The latter said that about 400 churches all over the United States are willing to open to people facing the risk of deportation. Other than churches, an increasing number of synagogues are also engaged in preventing deportations. About 24 U.S. cities, which include the likes of New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, have declared themselves as “sanctuary cities.” Mayors of these cities will not cooperate with any federal immigration order which could end in deportations. In response, Trump said that such cities will have their federal funding scuttled.

Trump, in the course of his election campaign, has said that he will deport about 11 million migrants who are in the U.S. sans any documentation. After becoming president-elect, the real estate billionaire turned politician said that he has plans to incarcerate or jail about three million convicted criminal migrants.

Trump's pre-election rhetoric did not stop at ejecting undocumented immigrants. He had also pledged to construct a wall along the United States- Mexico border which will bar illegal immigrants from entering the U.S.

The electoral victory of Donald Trump has led to unprecedented support and inquiries from congregations all over the U.S. and they want to join as sanctuary sites. According to Peter Pedemonti of New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, churches are extremely interested and the present coalition consists of 17 churches. Two synagogues have also joined in. All of them are united to oppose any deportation and also offer sanctuaries as veritable safe havens.

The sanctuary concept is not new. It has found note in the book of Numbers of the Hebrew Bible itself. Modern day places of worship can be considered by enforcement authorities as “sensitive locations.” The Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement regards them as sensitive and prefers to avoid engaging undocumented immigrants at such centers. The list of such sensitive locations includes schools and hospitals along with places of worship. 

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