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Clergy Call For Sanctuary for Immigrants Facing Deportation

A group of clergy and advocates are calling on congregations nationally to open their doors to immigrants facing deportation as they wait for executive action from President Barack Obama.

A group of faith leaders said Wednesday they are reviving the so-called “sanctuary movement” of the 1980s when churches sheltered people who fled wars in Central America and sought refuge in the U.S. Many arrived illegally.

Two dozen congregations were offering sanctuary as of Wednesday, according to the group’s website.

Alison Harrington, pastor of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona, said turning churches into sanctuaries is a last resort for the faith community, which has written letters, made phone calls, marched and gone to jail to get immigration reforms that would bring relief to immigrants illegally in the U.S.

“Leaders have continued to fail to act and so in light of this crisis we are calling for a national response from communities of faith to declare sanctuary for those facing final orders of deportation,” said Harrington, whose church is credited with founding the sanctuary movement in the 1980s.

Republicans in the U.S. House refused to take up comprehensive immigration reform this session, despite a Senate-passed comprehensive reform bill and House crafted immigration bills. President Barack Obama postponed plans to make some reforms through executive action by the end of summer. The White House has said he'll do so by the end of the year.

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