Rochester Church Announced itself as Immigrant Sanctuary

October 02, 2017 07:10 PM

(ABC 6 News) – For the first time in Rochester, a church is declaring itself a sanctuary for immigrants seeking a safe haven.

Miriam Goodson, who is with the Alliance of Chicanos, Hispanics and Latin Americans, says it is a big help because there are more immigrants in Rochester than you may think.


“17,000 immigrants probably in this town. Any mistake affects their paperwork and it takes forever to get the right path to citizenship," said Goodson. 

Also an education advocate, she says it's for those reasons, Rochester needs to be supporting local immigrants.

That's why on Monday, the Peace United Church of Christ publically announced itself as a sanctuary church.

"Which means that if there is someone that is at risk of deportation that who's case could be helped by staying in the united states, that we would be a place for them to take emergency shelter to ensure that they would be less likely to be deported,” said Rev. Beth Rogers with the Peace United Church of Christ. 

The pastor also says the church is willing to help immigrants with the resources they need to become a U.S. citizen.

"We are not going to break the law. If ice comes to us with a judicial warrant for the arrest of the individual that is here that that person would likely be taken away," said Rogers.

As far as law enforcement goes, Rochester Police Capt. John Sherwin says they don't have a say when it comes to people that are here illegally.

"It's because we don't have the ability or the authority to enforce immigration law. It's not within our duties. We're not federal agents. We are sworn to the laws of the state of Minnesota," said Capt. Sherwin.

He also says our community is made up of all kinds of people and the department’s job is to keep everyone safe.

By everyone, Goodson says that also includes immigrants.

"It affects us all because every family that I know, it's become part of my family, it becomes part of my community and I don’t want anybody suffering." said Goodson. 

The First Unitarian Universalist Church also announced Monday it will join the same efforts.

However, it is waiting to do some renovations before it will be ready to shelter immigrants.




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