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Sanctuary Cities; What Should Christians Think?

Since President Trump’s election, there’s been lots of talk in the media about sanctuary cities and lately sanctuary churches, as well.

What is a sanctuary city? There’s no official, legal definition of a sanctuary city, because various so called “sanctuary cities” have different policies regarding illegal immigrants. But here’s the general idea;

Local law enforcement in sanctuary cities or counties don’t ask, or report the immigration status of people they come in contact with.

Enforcement of that idea can vary from city to city. Technically, and legally, what the Trump administration wants is that anytime a law enforcement agency comes into contact with a person, which can be anything from a traffic violation to an arrest for serious felony, that they inquire about that person’s immigration status, report any illegal immigrant to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and hold that person in custody until ICE can investigate.

Some sanctuary cities will do that, but only for serious, violent felonies. Others refuse to ever call ICE. Why? Why would some cities not want to co-operate with ICE? The answer to that question varies as well. Some sanctuary cities refuse to co-operate on moral grounds. “These are generally hardworking men and women who perform a valuable service to our economy, who have children in schools and on moral grounds, we will not facilitate deportations or the break up families.” Others say that they just don’t have the resources to investigate and hold every person they suspect of being an illegal. Furthermore they say, that cracking down on undocumented residents would undermine community relations, and discourage residents from co-operating with crime prevention and investigation efforts.

The Trump Administration says, that by definition all illegal aliens have broken federal immigration laws and they expect all law enforcement agencies to investigate, hold and report them. And if they don’t, Trump is threatening to withhold federal funds from these cities. San Francisco gets around 500 million a year in federal funds.

Which cities are sanctuary cities? Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Orlando, Atlanta, New York and Boston, just to name a few, have all been dubbed, sanctuary cities.

What should Christians think? There were sanctuary cities in the Old Testament. These were designated cities where a person could flee to if they accidently killed someone until the suspected murderer could stand trial. Interestingly, if he was found guilty, he’d be dragged out of town and stoned to death (Numbers 35:11-34). However, there were no “sanctuary cities” for other crimes, so Christians confuse the biblical term with the modern one. However, they have this in common; God expected the leaders and priest of a sanctuary city to investigate the crime and punish the offender if found guilty.

The Bible has a lot to say about aliens and God’s concern and protection for them.

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33, 34

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Exodus 22:21

But, these aliens were not illegals. They were simply foreigners living in Israel, so those verses don’t actually apply to illegals. But here are some verses that do apply.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7

Christians also have to balance those mercy passages with Paul’s teaching in Romans 14 about Christians submitting to the authorities God has appointed to rule over us.

Here’s where I stand I cannot declare with certainty, that the Bible supports, nor does it dismiss the idea of modern sanctuary cities, but here is my position.

  1. Generally speaking, most illegals came to the U.S. out of desperation and are poor. And contrary to the campaign rhetoric of our president, most are not “murderers, rapists and drug dealers.” Most are hard working, Catholic and committed to their families. Nevertheless, they are here illegally.

  2. I support two of the positions proposed by President Bush and others; securing our borders to stop the flow of illegals and provide a pathway to citizenship for illegals here who do not commit a felony. I urge you to ask your congressman to pass reasonable immigration laws to providing a pathway to citizenship.

  3. I do not believe Christians should support arresting and deporting parents, leaving their children alone in the U.S. (which is the  legal right of those children). In those cases, innocent children are being punished for the sins of their parents.

  4. I believe all cities should report anyone accused and convicted of a felony to ICE for deportation after prison. If you want to live in the U.S. obey the law!

  5. Christians would do well to error on the side of mercy, rather than judgment. I cannot imagine Jesus ever condoning uprooting and deportation of an estimated 11,000,000 undocumented, and largely poor, and largely fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus expects his followers to think and act differently from the world. American Christians are better than that.

Every born again Christian is already an alien!

Question: What are your views and are they supported by scripture?

Next week: Sanctuary churches: Right or wrong?

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