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More Washtenaw congregations join sanctuary movement

Virginia Gordan
Michigan Radio

There are now eight congregations in Washtenaw County committed to providing or supporting sanctuary for immigrants and refugees threatened with detention or deportation.

That's up from three last August, according to Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary, an interfaith coalition of Washtenaw County faith communities whose leaders gathered today to condemn U.S. immigration policy and to fight deportations.

According to WCS representatives, the  eight Washtenaw congregations are part of a growing movement of sanctuary faith communities currently estimated at 800 nationwide.

"Some of the most fundamental principles of our major faith traditions are about honoring the stranger, offering sanctuary to the persecuted," said Rev. Joe Summers of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, which has made the commitment to support sanctuary efforts.

Summers said thousands of immigrant families are being ripped apart by deportation, and due process has gone out the window.

"It's a real time of crisis in terms of the conscience of our communities and how we're going to respond," said Summers.

Rev. Lindasusan Ulrich is with the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, which has committed to provide sanctuary for immigrants facing deportation.

"We have that power to speak on behalf of the marginalized, to speak on behalf of justice, to speak on behalf of compassion and love," said Ulrich. "And this is one way that we can make that real."

According to WCS leaders, there is one family in sanctuary in a Detroit church, but none yet in Washtenaw County.