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A Catholic parish in Lansing is the latest church in Michigan to designate itself as a “sanctuary church” for unauthorized immigrants facing deportation.
During a Monday afternoon press conference, Fr. Fred Thelen of Cristo Rey Church, congregants and supportive community members gathered to announce that after two years of “prayerful consideration, discussion and education, testimonies and dialogue,” the pastoral council of the church unanimously voted to become a sanctuary church.
That means the church is prepared to house a person or people in the church who are living in the U.S. without legal permission and have exhausted other options. A prospective sanctuary recipient would need to have a clean criminal record. If sanctuary is granted, the church would work with lawyers to take up the person’s immigration case.At least 10 other churches in Michigan, including churches in Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor and Detroit, have already chosen to adopt the sanctuary church designation. In the mid-Michigan area, All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing is a designated sanctuary church.
“To government leaders and agencies perpetuating systems of injustice, we say: stop the deportations, stop separating families, cease doing evil, learn to do good, make justice your aim,” Thelen said. “We stand here in solidarity to say to the multitude of good, hardworking immigrants and families, you are welcome here.”