More churches have become sanctuaries for Muslims after Trump won the Presidential Election in November.

A coalition of faith communities referred to as the PICO National Network reported that the number of church sanctuaries offering refuge to people under threat of being deported from the U.S. has grown to 800. This comes in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, after he campaigned on anti-immigrant rhetoric and promised to deport 2-3 million immigrants as soon as he came into power. The faith communities are largely Christian but have signaled intent to partner with the Islamic community to provide sanctuary to Muslims who have also come under attack by Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric.

Bishop Dwayne Royster remarked on a press call, “We are seeing more and more congregations joining the sanctuary movement, opening their doors to undocumented people, as well as to their Muslim neighbors, and as well to those who might be attacked.” Royster also stated the growth of sanctuary churches is, “a powerful tool to resist the harsh, xenophobic and the discriminatory policies proposed by the Trump administration."

Bishop Minerva Carcano, spokesperson for United Methodist Church Bishops commented, “United Methodists have been involved in sanctuary for several decades but never 60 congregations. It's been a congregation here and there across the country, but 60 are significant, it's an exponential increase. Our very own congregations are concerned about their immigrant neighbor," Carcano said. "About the immigrant that just joined their church or who has begun to visit, the immigrant who comes into their lives, and they themselves are stepping up and saying, 'What can we do?' And sanctuary has become one of those really deep, faith options for our congregations."

Sanctuaries in Churches are safe places for immigrants about to be deported because the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department has a general, unofficial policy of not carrying out operations in sensitive areas like churches and hospitals. During the civil wars of the 1980s in South America, churches acted on a large scale to prevent immigrants and refugees from deportation back to areas of violence and chaos. This was at a time when hundreds of thousands of refugees flooded the country.

Imam Omar Suleiman, president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research said a group of mosques would soon join the sanctuary effort and provide cover for Muslims. The threat of a Muslim registry and deportation of immigrants has many people in the Islamic community worried over possible repercussions following the inauguration of Donald Trump as president on January 20.

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