Written by Connie Larkman
Advocates from a dozen sanctuary movement churches and some of the immigrants to whom they offered refuge converged in Phoenix, Aug. 10-13, to call attention to the continued political inaction that is failing to provide relief from deportation.
Shadow Rock United Church of Christ, which, according to church pastor the Rev. Ken Heintzelman, "was honored to host a gathering of people who have offered and experienced sanctuary," brought the group together to discuss the moral imperative to stop deportations and to draw attention tothe case of Sixto Paz, who has been residing in sanctuary at Shadow Rock since early June.
"The purpose of our gathering is to share our experiences, identify best sanctuary practices, build stronger bonds between us and begin to develop a national strategy for offering the ministry of sanctuary," said Heintzelman. "What is obvious is the way people are bonding. The shared human experience of standing together against injustice and standing together for families, life and love unite us even though we are from such diverse backgrounds and from all over the country."
Paz faces deportation even though he has lived legally in the United States for 25 years. He came to the U.S. through a government amnesty program in the 1980s that allowed him to work and travel. Paz is a homeowner and has raised three children in this country — all of whom have U.S. citizenship, pay taxes and do not have a criminal record. But when a shift in immigration laws changed Paz's status, Shadow Rock offered to house him, so he wouldn't be separated from his family.