A church in South Carolina has declared itself to be a “sanctuary” for “a few carefully chosen” illegal immigrants with deportation orders, the first in the southern state to make such a move, defying federal immigration laws.
Sam Stone, a board member of Clayton Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church, said the leadership of the tiny congregation of 15 must still figure out the logistics, reported WOLO-TV in Columbia, South Carolina.
“We don’t know who’s going to be referred to us and how that … and how that process is all going to work yet. That’s part of the work in process,” said Stone.
The church’s fellowship hall will be transformed into a living space for one to two people, WOLO reported.
Along with basic needs, the congregation also intends to provide help the illegal immigrants with immigration attorneys to overturn the deportation orders.
Marsha DeRosier, the church’s treasurer, explained the motivation.
“We’re not doing it because it’s political, because it’s noteworthy, because it’s controversial,” she said. “We’re doing it because we think it’s the right thing to do and we’re able to do it.”
Sheriff Lee Foster told WOLO that local law enforcement has no authority to take action because immigration is under federal jurisdiction.
“But it still does not make it legal. And just because they feel like they have sympathy for what people are going through, does not make it legal and for them to be able to circumvent the laws of this country,” Foster said.
Citing Church World Services, WOLO noted that the number of sanctuary churches has doubled to 800 since President Trump has taken office.