/ Modified jan 15, 2016 5:22 a.m.

Tucson Church Restarting Sanctuary Movement of 1980s

Tucson church is organizing to give refuge to Central Americans seeking asylum

Southside Presbyterian Church SPOT
Southside Presbyterian Church

Listen:

Another influx of asylum seekers from Central America are entering Arizona, fleeing violence and oppression. That has sparked a revival in a sanctuary movement that protected Central Americans three decades ago.

In the early 1980s, civil wars pushed more than a million Central Americans from El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The Reagan administration declared them economic refugees, not eligible for asylum.

But in Tucson, members of one church congregation decided that while the federal government turned away refugees, they would not. Now, the church is at it again, taking in and protecting what they call refugees of violence.

“Here at Southside, we really feel that we are living through the nightmare again," said Allison Harrington, the pastor of Southside Presbyterian Church, which started the sanctuary movement.

She said her congregation is organizing with U.S. churches for a renewal of sanctuary.

“I hope that in D.C. they are thinking 'oh wait we’ve been through this with them before – and we know that these church folks are not to be messed with; that they are serious about their faith and they will do whatever it takes to resist.'”

In the 1980s, the sanctuary movement that started in Tucson eventually expanded to 500 churches in the U.S. and Canada at its peak.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona