The Common Good
November-December 2001


by Rose Marie Berger, Susannah Hunter | November-December 2001

James A. Corbett, 1933-2001

Jim Corbett-Quaker, rancher, Harvard-educated philosopher, and a founder of the "sanctuary movement" that provided protection to refugees escaping the Central America wars of the 1980s-died August 2 at his home in Arizona. He was 67. Corbett began bringing Central American refugees into his home in 1981 after discovering that the Immigration and Naturalization Service regularly detained and deported them. Corbett talked with Presbyterian pastor John Fife about what he was doing, and in 1982 the "underground railroad" became a public sanctuary movement that engaged thousands of U.S. churches. In a 1986 Sojourners interview, Corbett said, "If refugees' rights are respected in the United States, there's no way that the United States can continue to follow a policy of military intervention based on pacification techniques designed to create refugees." In recent years, Corbett, who was debilitated by a rare brain disease, offered his desert home as a place for retreat and solitude.

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