There's been a marked increase over the last couple of months in immigration raids targeting Central American women and children, many of whom have fled dangerous circumstances in their home countries.
Three churches in Los Angeles have said they will offer protection to people from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, even if immigrants have pending deportation orders, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"We are willing to fight this tooth and nail," Reverend Fred Morris of the North Hills United Methodist Church told the newspaper. "If ICE wants to come get them, they're going to have to break down the church door." The paper writes that the churches' offers of support are a revival of a sanctuary movement that first gained traction in 2007, but has been revived with the latest raids:
The recent immigration raids were simply the "tipping point," said Alexia Salvatierra, a Lutheran pastor in Los Angeles who teaches and trains faith-rooted organizing across the country.
"It was basta—enough," she said, summing up the general feeling toward the raids among some in the faith-based community in Southern California.
Two weeks ago, protests in Los Angeles and San Francisco brought traffic to a standstill as advocates demanded an end to the raids, which they say persecute mainly women and children who should be granted refugee status.
Immigration advocates have found that many Central Americans with deportation orders were never actually given proper representation or explanation of how to claim asylum.
“Our interviews revealed that these families have bona fide asylum claims, but were deprived of a meaningful opportunity to present them at their hearings in immigration court,” Katie Shepherd, Managing Attorney for a pro-bono legal aid group, the CARA Project, told Fusion in January. “It’s beyond shameful that these families, who risked everything to seek protection in the United States, were being forcibly returned to the violence and turmoil they fled in Central America.”
The federal government has been heavily criticized by House Democrats and immigration advocates for the raids, and for the more than 2.5 million people deported under the Obama administration–more than any other president has deported.