How We Expand Sanctuary

How do we expand our definition of Sanctuary and organize our communities around common needs and values? We can't win in isolation, our communities are under attack, we need to organize together to repeal this system of oppression and hate. Expanding Sanctuary means creating Sanctuary but also expanding our alliances, taking a stand against oppression and harassment. Below are strategies and tactics for organizing members of your community with safety, dignity, and respect as a priority. We protect our communities from acts of terrorist violence, discrimination, and profiling enforced by police and ICE. We took inspiration from courageous work by many partners.

Every day repeat: I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!

Community Defense

Organize your community and Know your rights

  • Find resources and offer trainings in your workplace
  • Reach out to immigrant right organizers (see resources section)
  • Build a directory of resources within your community
  • Organize with your community, create a rapid response plan in case of emergencies. 

Find allies in your community

Reach out to organizations or networks already working with communities under attack (expand your base and remember diversity and inclusiveness are key. Ask yourself:

  • Who are those communities under attack?
  • What do we have in common?
  • How can we support each other?

Broader outreach. Here are some ideas of who you may want to reach out to in your community:

  • Business owners
  • Employers
  • Unions
  • Interfaith leaders
  • Hospitals + Health Centers
  • Restaurants
  • Libraries
  • Landlords
  • Park Council
  • Civic associations
  • Elected officials
  • Community organizers
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Schools
  • Public transport workers
  • Business networks
  • Block captains
  • Therapist and social workers

Building community base and support

  • Do outreach to identify supporters within your community
  • Visibility. Make signs, flyers, etc. Free Hate zone signs are good to let the community know about supporters. Keep in mind that you want to create buffer zones around communities at risk.
    • Be aware of isolation and places that can become targets if they are in a hostile zone. Think about strategies to be visible, but avoid becoming easy targets. You may have to think in times and places to be visible, and other times when you want to be articulated but be low key.
  • Press conference with supporters, statement of community leaders to show a wide and growing community base of supporters
  • Get together
    • You may want to have community events where people can learn more and sign on (potlucks, community events, movie screenings, etc.). Remember that it’s important to create spaces where we can celebrate our communities, we are strong, we are loved, we matter, we belong and are worthed!
      • Be accessible. Be mindful of limitations that can prevent people to attend (safe place, child care, accessible location and times, etc.).
    • Engage the community. Get people’s contacts to inform them about events, or the be on the call to show community support in case of a raid.
      • You can find information about how to develop plans in case of a raid. 
    • Get community emergency funds. You can host fundraisers to help communities affected. This could be for example been used for legal fees, moving expenses, rapid response,  loss of employment.  

What does providing Sanctuary mean?

  • Usually, by the time a person needs Sanctuary, all other legal avenues have been pursued and a final order of deportation has been issued. There may be little time, a few days, or a few months left for a person before being deported when a congregation is approached….
  • Think of your own everyday routine: eating, bathing (showers could be configured in some way for those locations without permanent showers), relaxing, having fun, cooking, sleeping, etc. Are spaces available to accommodate this? If not, is your church willing to create it? Or does another church offer this and a partnership could be formed?...
  • Who in our faith communities can provide support to the individual and/or family in sanctuary? People will need groceries and occasionally meals; to play games with people and people to pray with them….
  • What security issues need to be considered if any? Some churches have installed video cameras to help protect the individual in sanctuary and the legal cases if ICE decides to enter the church even though historically this hasn't occurred…
  • What about insurance and liability? The General Liability Insurance that all churches carry should cover any mishaps that could occur while someone is living in Sanctuary...
  • There is also the option to be in a supporting role and not provide space. An example from Boston, MA.