Sacred Resistance: Inside the Resurgent Sanctuary Movement

The new sanctuary movement takes its inspiration from the sanctuary movement of the 1980s in which leaders, inspired by their faith, offered protections to mostly Central American immigrant people. Among them were Father Luis Olivares and Father Richard Estrada in Los Angeles. Though their efforts are not as well documented, immigrant churches have sustained and advanced the sanctuary movement throughout its existence.

While a number of churches engaged in sanctuary efforts throughout the 2000s, a new resurgence of the movement emerged around 2016 after deportation priorities shifted. Several churches joined efforts to offer sanctuary to immigrant women and men affected by these changes. There are now at least 35 public cases of sanctuary. This film documents the stories of Minerva García and Eliseo Jimenez, the congregations that received them, and the many branches of the sanctuary movement.

Editor Update: In May 2019, Minerva Garcia was granted permanent residency, which allows her to stay in the U.S. indefinitely.

As you consider these stories, we invite you to work through the discussion guide yourself and with a group. Our hope is that this guided reflection helps individuals and groups consider the ways in which we offer sanctuary to one another.

Download the discussion guide here.