Cristo Rey to become sanctuary church

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) - A local church is taking a stand for immigration hoping to provide a place of comfort for those who face deportation.

Immigration reform has been a hot button issue not just across the country, but in our state as well and now “Cristo Rey Church” is hoping to create a "safe zone" for local immigrant families.

Starting on Monday, Cristo Rey will declare itself a "sanctuary parish."

That means if immigrants who face deportation were to ask the church to let them stay there, the church will most likely say "yes" unless they've broken the law.

“The idea is that if someone comes and stays inside the church, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) won't come and pick them up,” said Oscar Castaneda; Organizer of Civil Rights for Immigrants at Cristo Rey.

Castaneda says by becoming a sanctuary church, it provides a level of hope for immigrants.

“It's not just to say go in sanctuary and stay there for the next 16 years. If a person comes in sanctuary, we will work really hard in providing legal support and opportunities to help them,” Castaneda stated.

Castaneda says throughout the state of Michigan, there are 16 churches that have declared themselves as sanctuaries and Cristo Rey wants to become another "safe spot" for people, especially right now.

“Immigration in the United States is totally in shambles and you need a full on, comprehensive immigration reform,” said Castaneda.

Castaneda says while the separation of families at the U.S. southern border has come to a halt, it’s still heart wrenching to fathom what those immigrants have gone through. But he says he's optimistic things will change.

“There were hundreds of rallies in the United States. Here in Lansing we had more than 1,000 people rallying which you can never get people to rally and people was really upset about it and the administration stopped it. They stopped doing what they were doing so I believe in democracy, I believe in justice and I believe that any human being is basically a good person,” Castaneda stated.

Castaneda says that regardless if a church, hospital or school is considered "sanctuary,” it doesn't necessarily prevent ICE from doing its job. 

But on Monday, Cristo Rey Church will announce its effort to keep families together. That event will take place at 3:00 p.m.

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