logo-lightEast End United Methodist Church

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors


Sanctuary Movement

The Sanctuary Movement is a growing movement of faith and immigrant communities doing what Congress and the Administration refuse to do: protect and stand with immigrants facing deportation. Members pledge to protect immigrant families who face workplace discrimination or unjust deportation. Many religious leaders, congregations, and faith-based organizations of all denominations are a part of the Movement.

Our Mission as a Solidarity Congregation

EEUMC believes that Jesus’ compassionate love calls us to seek justice and renewal for the vulnerable and neglected. We stand in unity with people impacted by immigration policy and social climate, committing to provide solidarity, partnership, and refuge.

What Being a Solidarity Congregation Means

East End has committed to support the Sanctuary Movement as a Solidarity Congregation. In this capacity, we support immigrant communities through several actions, including:

  1. Making a public statement of solidarity
  2. Including immigration concerns in church liturgy, curriculum, and prayers
  3. Committing to advocacy efforts at the local, state and national level
  4. Providing tangible support (e.g., clothing drives, laundry, toiletry collection, food, and so forth) for those housed in sanctuary congregations
  5. Raising funds to help families recover from loss of breadwinners

Frequently Asked Questions

Citizenship, immigration and refugee issues are complex and multi-faceted. We hope to answer any questions you may have with the FAQ below. If you have additional questions that aren’t addressed here, please write them down and drop them off in the Question Boxes that are placed around the sanctuary through Sunday, July 23rd.

Solidarity Congregation Details

Why are we becoming a Solidarity Congregation?

Citizenship, immigration and refugee issues are complex and multi-faceted. Despite the black and white language commonly used, such as “illegals” and “undocumented,” which only promotes division, these issues exist on a spectrum. A person’s status and rights are not that simple, and can quickly change. Simply put, no human being is illegal. Many of our neighbors, even those with definitive legal rights to be here, live in constant fear of being deported, having their rights and/or status reduced, being separated from their family and loved ones, and ICE raids. They also face anger, discrimination, and exclusion on a daily basis.

What does it mean to be a Solidarity Congregation?

By committing to act as a Solidarity Congregation, East End publicly recognizes and affirms that immigrants, refugees, and all our neighbors, despite any label applied to them, are all human, all children of God, and all our sisters and brothers. East End pledges to uphold the dignity, due process and full acceptance and participation of all people in our society through protection, support and advocacy. East End is dedicated to: educating and activating its congregation; listening to and responding to the voices of immigrant leaders and organizations; serving our immigrant and refugee communities; and speaking out against discrimination of any marginalized person or group.

What are we asked to do as a Solidarity Congregation?

As a Solidarity Congregation, East End will support local Sanctuary Congregations, which offer housing for individuals facing immigration threats. This may take the form of offering supplies, transportation, volunteers, or financial assistance. The East End Sanctuary Group will offer opportunities for the Congregation to learn more about immigrant and refugee issues and to participate in community prayers, vigils, legislative advocacy, and volunteer opportunities. East End serves in conjunction with a multi-faith network of Solidarity and Sanctuary congregations and also partners with established organizations such as the TN Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).

Who are those seeking Sanctuary?

Most Sanctuary cases begin with a lawyer or legal service clinic identify someone who has been working to stop their deportation order without success. The legal service team assesses whether someone will be eligible for prosecutorial discretion. Those who enter into Sanctuary should have a reasonable potential of receiving a stay of removal, order of supervision or some other form of administrative relief.

The legal service team then consults with Sanctuary organizers and involved pastor to begin a conversation about a potential Sanctuary case. Ideally this happens months in advance, but sometimes the individual comes to a legal clinic or local organizers in the 11th hour, requiring a congregation to act quickly.

Each case is different, sometimes often there is a family linked that would be separated, but not always.

Source: “Sanctuary Not Deportation: A Faithful Witness to Building Welcoming Communities”

How can I get involved?

If you’d like to get involved with the Sanctuary Group ministry, please attend our next meeting on July 9, 2017 after church in the Dining Hall, or email Jim Polk. Please let us know if you speak Spanish or other foreign languages.

Legal Ramifications

Is sanctuary breaking the law?

Law is a lot like scripture — it’s up to your interpretation. There is a law against bringing in and harboring persons not authorized to be in the U.S. (INA Sec.274) While Sanctuary doesn’t bring people in, whether we are harboring someone is up for interpretation.

Some courts have interpreted harboring to require concealment of a person. When we declare Sanctuary for an individual, we are bringing them into the light of the community, not concealing them in the dark of secrecy. (U.S. v. Costello, 66 F.3d 1040 (7th Cir. 2012)) Other courts have interpreted harboring to be simple sheltering. (U.S. v. Acosta de Evans, 531 F.2d 428 (9th Cir. 1976))

As a reminder: rescuing slaves via the Underground Railroad and protecting Jews from Nazis during WWII were considered illegal. Our saving grace is that immigration officials know that if they went into a house of worship to arrest a pastor, they would have a public relations nightmare on their hands.

Here are two immigration policies that do relate to Sanctuary:

1. “Sensitive Areas” — There’s no official legislation that keeps law enforcement from entering a church to arrest someone outside of a 2011 ICE memo that advises officials to avoid detaining immigrants in “sensitive areas” like schools, hospitals, and churches. But, can you imagine what would happen if immigration officials broke into a church to drag away a mom?

2. “Prosecutorial Discretion” — Activists and faith leaders are using ICE’s own policies of “prosecutorial discretion” to argue that these immigration cases are low-priority. Deportation would only serve to break up a family and the community that supports them.

Source: Groundswell

Immigration Misconceptions

Are immigrants overrunning our country, with most of them being here illegally?

It is true that there are more immigrants living in the U.S. than ever before. However, the percentage of immigrants in the overall population is not much different than many other times throughout our history. Today immigrants make up approximately13% of the total U.S. population. From 1900 to 1930, immigrants made up between 12% and 15% of the population, and similar spikes occurred in the 1850s and 1880s. During those periods immigrants successfully became part of American society, helping to build the thriving and diverse country we have now, and there is no reason to believe today’s immigrants will be any different.

More than sixty percent of immigrants in the United States today have lived here for at least 15 years, and a large majority of immigrants have lawful status. Of the approximately 41 million immigrants in the U.S. in 2013 (the most recent year for which there are statistics), close to 47 percent were naturalized citizens. Together, lawful permanent residents (sometimes referred to as green card holders), people in the United States on temporary visas including student and work visas, refugees and people seeking asylum, and undocumented immigrants made up the remaining 53 percent of immigrants.

In 2014 there were approximately 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S., which is actually a significant decrease from the 12.2 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2007. Today, in fact, the net migration from Mexico (the number of people entering the U.S. from Mexico minus the number of people leaving the U.S. to go to Mexico) is around zero. Undocumented immigrants make up about 3.5 percent of the nation’s total population.

Source: Anti-Defamation League

Are immigrants taking good jobs from U.S. citizens?

Ask students what kinds of jobs they think immigrants are taking. According to the American Immigration Council, a nonpartisan group, research indicates there is little connection between immigrant labor and unemployment rates of native-born workers. Two trends—better education and an aging population—have resulted in a decrease in the number of workers born in the United States who are willing or available to take low-paying jobs. Across all industries and occupations, though, immigrants who are naturalized citizens and non-citizens are outnumbered by workers born in the United States.

Another version of this myth is that it is undocumented immigrants who are taking jobs. However, the U.S. civilian workforce included 8 million unauthorized immigrants in 2014, which accounts for only 5 percent of the entire workforce. Compared with their small share of the civilian workforce overall, immigrants without authorization are only overrepresented in service, farming and construction occupations. This may be due to the fact that, to fill the void of low-skilled U.S. workers, employers often hire undocumented immigrant workers. One of the consequences of this practice is that it is easier for unscrupulous employers to exploit this labor source, paying immigrants less, refusing to provide benefits and ignoring worker-safety laws. On an economic level, U.S. citizens benefit from relatively low prices on food and other goods produced by undocumented immigrant labor.

Source: Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center

Do immigrants hurt our country financially by taking jobs and services without paying taxes?

Though some people claim that immigrants are taking job opportunities away from people born in the U.S., immigrants actually help to create new jobs. In addition to buying American and local products, which helps create jobs, immigrants often start their own businesses. In fact, immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses as citizens born in the U.S., and companies owned by immigrants are more likely to hire employees than companies owned by native-born citizens. States with large numbers of immigrants report lower unemployment for everyone.

Immigrants collectively pay between $90 and $140 billion each year in taxes, and a recent study found that undocumented immigrants alone paid more than $11.8 billion in taxes in 2012. Everyone pays sales taxes on goods they purchase and property taxes on the homes they buy or rent, and more than half of all undocumented immigrant households file income tax returns using Individual Tax Identification Numbers.

Source: Anti-Defamation League

Do immigrants come to the U.S. to obtain welfare and other benefits?

Most immigrants who come to this country work hard to take care of their families and themselves. Many studies have shown that on average immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, meaning the taxes they pay more than cover the cost of things like public education and healthcare.

With very few exceptions (such as access to medical care for victims of human trafficking), undocumented immigrants are not eligible for federal public benefits such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and food stamps. In addition, most immigrants with lawful status are not entitled to these benefits until they have been in the country for five years or longer. This means that Social Security is often being deducted from immigrants’ paychecks but they cannot access those benefits.

Source: Anti-Defamation League

Do immigrants bring crime and violence to our cities and towns?

Recently, public figures have claimed that immigrants are “killers” and “rapists,” bringing crime to the U.S. Study after study has shown, however, that immigrants—regardless of where they are from, what immigration status they hold, and how much education they have completed—are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes or become incarcerated. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while the overall percentage of immigrants and the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. both increased sharply between 1990 and 2010, the violent crime rate in the U.S. during that time plummeted 45 percent and the property crime rate dropped by 42 percent. Studies have consistently found that immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans and that there was no correlation between crime rates and levels of immigration. Other studies have in fact found that crime rates are lowest in states with the highest immigration growth rates

Source: Anti-Defamation League

Featured Story

At the Women’s March in Washington, DC on January 21, 2017, 6-year-old Sophie Cruz urged people to continue fighting for the rights of immigrants.

“We are here together making a chain of love, to protect our families,” she said to the crowd. “Let us fight with love, faith, and courage so that our families will not be destroyed.”

Additional Resources

Sanctuary Movement, the official site for the movement in which hundreds of congregations are standing in solidarity with immigrants and providing spaces of sanctuary for individuals facing deportation or targeted by hate.

UMC Board for Church and Society, addresses more than 30 social issues on which The United Methodist Church has claimed a position; communicates with policymakers and leaders around the world with the mission of transforming the world.

Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, a United Methodist immigration legal aid organization

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration with the mission to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state.

Welcoming Tennessee, A TIRRC initiative working to continue the tradition of Tennessee being a welcoming state by increasing understanding of how new Tennesseans share our values, contribute to our economy, enhance our combined culture and strengthen our communities.

ACLU-TNThe Tennessee branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. Its mission is to translate the guarantees of the Bill of Rights into reality for all Tennesseans, moving our state forward as we work to protect and promote justice and equality.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

Volunteer Immigration Defense Advocates (VIDA), a nonprofit with the mission to expand access to quality pro bono immigration-related legal services in underserved areas of the United States

TN Welcoming Initiative, TIRRC’s http://www.welcomingtn.org and their “Take Action” page where the post what they need people to do in the community

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, a non-profit providing free legal services for civil cases to people with low income.

Groundswell, an online community of faith-rooted leaders, organizers, and others motivated by faith and moral commitment who want to learn how to take faithful action, organize in a digital age, and use cutting-edge tools to support their work healing and repairing the world.

People Power Group, the ACLU’s grassroots member-mobilization project mobilizing in defense of our civil liberties. Volunteers build local communities that affirm our American values of respect, equality, and solidarity.

Nashville Community Defense, a coalition of community members, organizations, and congregations committed to nonviolent resistance against the Trump administration’s escalating attacks on our Muslim, undocumented, and immigrant friends, family, and neighbors.

Get Involved

If you’d like to get involved with our Sanctuary Movement Ministry, contact:

Jim Polk

Want to learn more about the Sanctuary Movement?

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