Many churches statewide to become sanctuaries for immigrants facing deportation

Posted at 5:34 PM, Mar 14, 2017

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Places of worship statewide have become a sanctuary network for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Two churches in Kalamazoo were among the many who announced Tuesday they will help house and protect families from being separated. Clergy statewide are responding to looming threats of immigration crackdown and heightened deportation under President Trump's administration.

"As people of faith and followers of Jesus Christ, many of us are concerned about preserving the integrity of the families in our community and there’s a great deal of fear about what is going to happen in the coming months," said Rev. Nathan Dannison with First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo.

"Our primary concern is preventing children from being separated from their parents and being placed in the custody of the state.”

Leaders with the First Congregational Church and Vanguard Edison Church spoke Tuesday as they work with Michigan United and community members to address the fear they say they are seeing just in southwest Michigan.

The Michigan spokesperson with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Khaalid Walls, told FOX 17 Tuesday they do not have a comment on any specific actions churches statewide are taking, but made this statement on behalf of ICE officials:

"The ICE sensitive locations (schools, places of worship, medical facilities) policy, which remains in effect, provides that enforcement actions at sensitive locations should generally be avoided, and requires either prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action.  DHS is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation."