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4 Syracuse churches join coalition to provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants

Ellen Abbott
Father Fred Daley speaks at All Saints Church in Syracuse Monday

Four churches in Syracuse have joined a growing number of religious organizations across the country that have declared themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. The new Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition has formed to stand in solidarity with undocumented immigrants.

Not only has All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Syracuse joined the new sanctuary coalition, but it has turned a portion of its former rectory into a living space where an undocumented immigrant fighting deportation could stay.

“A person who would be fleeing ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] would be able to live in sanctuary,” said Father Fred Daley, pastor of All Saints Church. “The coalition would provide support, meals if necessary, etc., during that time while they’re going through that legal process.”

Daley says this would be a dramatic last resort for an individual to take, and expects there would be no interference from federal immigration authorities.

"By tradition the government has never crossed the line into church grounds to break sanctuary,” he said. “We are also well aware, we are in a new moment in the Trump Administration and anything is possible.”

Daley says churches have a long history of providing sanctuary. The coalition, which currently consists of All Saints Church, St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church, University United Methodist Church, and the Plymouth Congregational Church, expects more houses of worship to join its ranks. 

Along with providing safe spaces, the group will also educate the public on immigration issues as well as advocate for immigration reform, and offer support to families during immigration hearings.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.