The Common Good
July 2006

Sanctuary Movement on the Rise

by Rose Marie Berger | July 2006

The city council of Maywood, California, declared the town a refuge for undocumented residents in January.

The city council of Maywood, California, declared the town a refuge for undocumented residents in January. Coachella, California, followed suit in March by passing a resolution stating that “the city will provide a safe, healthy, and dignified place to live for its immigrant communities, regardless of immigration status.” “When Maywood declared itself a sanctuary,” David Velásquez, a priest at Maywood’s St. Rose of Lima parish, told Sojourners, “the people in the church really rejoiced. It is really a miracle for us. We now know that the police will actually respect the people.”

The council’s resolution was the fruit of a three-year campaign by church groups and others to resist harassment of the town’s undocumented residents, who make up 50 percent of Maywood’s population.

“There is a new vision among the citizens that they can fight for justice,” said Velasquez. Several other city councils are considering legislation that would prevent local police from arresting undocumented residents if federal anti-immigrant legislation is enacted.

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