There is an interesting policy that is not commonly know about. This policy states that United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents may not arrest an undocumented individual or a person with an order of removal or deportation, while they physically remain on property owned by a religious entity. Recently, such property has served as a safe haven to several families in Tuscon, Arizona. The only caveat to this policy that would allow ICE agents to proceed and take an individual into custody, is when it is believed the arrest is based on an imminent harm or threat.
Recently, a Mexican immigrant, Francisco Cordova has remained safely inside of an Arizona church where has been seeking protection for over a week now. With the help and support of the religious leaders in his community, he remains inside the church, in direct disregard for the order of removal or deportation that the government has filed against him. The community refuses to surrender Mr. Cordova to the government officials, so that the Department of Homeland Security ICE officers can deport him back to his home country of Mexico. Mr. Cordova has children who are born in the United States and are thereby citizens of this country by virtue of their birthright. He has refused to comply with the order of removal on account of those children. He stated earlier in the week, that he desired a better opportunity and life for his children. His wish and hope is that his children will have more opportunities than he had been given, being born into an impoverished family in Mexico.
All across the country, many religious organization have come together to help their members who have a similar order of removal or deportation from the United States, by offering them a safe haven from the long arm of the Department of Homeland Security. By utilizing this policy, they are legally able to allow members at risk of deportation, shelter within the walls of the church building. In North Texas a group calling themselves, the Coalition of Faiths, is vigorously attempting to recruit additional religious organizations of all denominations to help in their cause by offering places of shelter and sanctuary to individuals in need. One of the areas the Coalition is targeting next is the large city of Dallas. The group feels that when the larger cities are reached and begin to participate, their presence and cause will be heard and felt with greater veracity.
The group’s mission is to keep families together. There thousands of many families who have United States citizen children, born here, whose parents may be undocumented and under current orders of removal and deportation. This goal of family unity is a measure to provide safe haven while the nation awaits with hopeful expectation, the possibility of Comprehensive Immigration Reform becoming a reality. These brave religious leaders who are standing up for what they believe is the right thing to do, are heeding the laws of human kind and not necessarily those of the United States government.