Iowans offer their churches as sanctuary to people at risk of deportation


A call for action to protect immigrant families


Des Moines, Iowa — Eleven Iowa congregations recently announced the formation of the Iowa Sanctuary Movement, a network of faith communities which are the first in the state’s recent history to publicly offer sanctuary and support to immigrant families who are targeted under the Trump administration’s expanded detention operation.


More than one-third of undocumented immigrants are raising at least one US citizen child under the age of 18. In Iowa, groups tracking Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations and providing support to families report that families are being separated and mothers being left to care for children when ICE arrests the father. ICE’s increased enforcement operations are especially impacting Latino families in Iowa, 75% of which have children under 18 years of age.



“We remember our Holy Scriptures are univocal in their hospitality commands,” said Rev. Ryan Arnold, pastor of First Christian Church in Des Moines. “Saint Paul, writing to the Church in Rome instructed, ‘Let your love be genuine … extend hospitality to immigrants, We remember that throughout Christian history, houses of worship have served as safe-havens for vulnerable people escaping state-sanctioned violence and seeking due process under the law.”


On Father’s Day, June 18, the “Iowa Dads in Detention” event at First Christian Church brought together 85 people to learn about the statewide impact of recent ICE raids on Iowa families. The two-part event featured a panel discussion as well as a declaration from leaders of the Iowa Sanctuary Movement offering their congregations as safe refuge for those who fear or face deportation.


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