In the 1980s, the term “sanctuary” was used in the context of churches that sheltered individuals and families fleeing war in the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Churches offered housing to individuals who otherwise would have been sent back to their countries of origin. The churches were considered safe shelter because of the government’s reluctance to enter these spaces. Many congregations also supported the wider sanctuary movement, which fought to enact laws and policies more favorable to Central American refugees applying for political asylum.
Today, congregations involved in the sanctuary movement are mobilizing to help the undocumented community, which has felt threatened since the election of President Trump in November. Several Bay Area congregations have committed to offering physical sanctuary to persons who face final deportation orders, but still want to fight the forced return to their home country.
So far, no Bay Area religious spaces are housing individuals facing deportation orders. This offering of physical sanctuary can involve a huge commitment of energy and resources without a guarantee of success. However, many other Bay Area congregations are actively involved in providing resources and advocacy on behalf of the undocumented community. Help from congregations included on this map include:
- Advocacy for pro-immigrant city, state and national policies
- Accompaniment of asylum seekers, or families impacted by detentions or deportations to help them find services and resources; this may include providing short or long-term housing for asylum seekers who have just arrived to the country
- Joining a Rapid Response network that helps connect undocumented individuals detained by ICE to legal help, and their families to an emotional support system, along with other services
- Preparing to provide short-term stays for communities threatened by ICE raids
This map was compiled with help from the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, PICO California, San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese and People Acting Together in Community. Please contact communities directly to learn more.
Is your faith space missing? Does something need to be updated? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a list of communities noted on the map.
- University Lutheran Chapel* (Berkeley)
- St. John’s Presbyterian Church* (Berkeley)
- First Congregational Church of Berkeley (Berkeley)
- Shomeret Shalom Global Congregation (Berkeley)
- Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana (Oakland)
- Oakland Catholic Worker (Oakland)
- Oakland City Church (Oakland)
- St. Columba Catholic Church (Oakland)
- Temple Sinai (Oakland)
- Kehilla Community Synagogue (Piedmont)
- Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church (Walnut Creek)
- First Presbyterian Church of Hayward (Castro Valley)
- Insight Meditation Center (Redwood City)
- First Congregational Church of Palo Alto (Palo Alto)
- Congregational Church of San Mateo (San Mateo)
- Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo (San Mateo)
- Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City (Redwood City)
- El Buen Pastor (Redwood City)
- Sisters of Mercy (Burlingame)
- First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto (Palo Alto)
- Advent Lutheran Church (Morgan Hill)
- 54 parishes of the Diocese of San Jose (San Jose)
- First Unitarian Church of San Jose (San Jose)
- Good Samaritan United Methodist Church (Cupertino)
- Lieu Quan Buddhist Temple (San Jose)
- Los Gatos United Methodist Church (Los Gatos)
- San Jose First United Methodist Church (San Jose)
- St. Jude Episcopal Church (Cupertino)
- St. Paul’s United Methodist Church (San Jose)
- Temple Emmanu-El (San Jose)
- Wesley United Methodist Church (San Jose)
- Westminster Presbyterian Church (San Jose)
- Alum Rock United Methodist (San Jose)
- Shir Hadash (Los Gatos)
- Silicon Valley Progressive Faith Community (South Bay)
(An * indicates congregations willing to offer physical sanctuary for individuals facing deportation orders.)