The “Underground Railroad” to Protect Undocumented Immigrants From Deportation

Religious leaders organize underground network hiding undocumented immigrants.

Americans across the U.S. are creating underground networks to create a safe refuge for undocumented immigrants.[/tweetit] The most amazing thing about this is that people involved are of every faith – including pastors who believe that it is their duty to provide sanctuary for people who are trying to escape war, poverty and violence.

The “Underground Railroad” to Protect Undocumented Immigrants From Deportation[/tweetthis]

The members involved in this movement fully know the consequences of their actions. One of the Jewish men involved with the network, acknowledges he gets scared when he thinks about what would happen. Although law enforcers cannot enter their properties without warrants, they definitely can if they carry warrants with them. The Jewish man, who doesn’t want to be named, says he will deal with that situation when it arises.

The network, the Rapid Response Team, is similar to a similar movement that took place in the 1980s, called the Sanctuary Movement. People involved in this movement today are either making arrangements to accommodate fleeing families, or have already done so. While the Sanctuary Movement involved religious houses throwing open their doors to people, the Rapid Response movement has people opening up their private homes to undocumented immigrants who need protection from legal authorities.

As per U.S. laws, houses of worship are public spaces where the police can enter to carry out their functions. To counter this, people have decided to house the immigrants in their homes.

Pastors believe that by providing protection to fleeing undocumented immigrants, they are fulfilling the Bible’s commandments. For Jews, it’s a way of repaying the favors done to them by the German families who hid them in their homes to protect them from the Nazis. Reverend Zach Hoover, executive director of the interfaith community organization at LA Voice, says he isn’t afraid of the consequences because at the end of the day, it’s God whom he answers to. Another Pastor, Ada Valiente, says the immigration laws have attacked the basic foundation of the Church – the family.

Although the network can house about only 100 immigrant families for now, members are hopeful that as the network grows, they will be able to house thousands more.


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