Support the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition.
Araceli Velasquez entered Sanctuary at Temple Micah and Park Hill United Methodist Church in Denver in August, 2017. Read about Araceli’s choice to enter Sanctuary here.
Ingrid Encalada Latorre re-entered Sanctuary at Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, Colorado in October, 2017 and then moved to the UU Church of Boulder, allowing her to be closer to her school-aged son, Bryant, and his school. Learn about Ingrid’s ongoing struggle to keep her family together here.
The Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition MDSC is a group of allied faith groups who are actively pursuing justice through the non-violent protest of unjust immigration policies and processes by providing sanctuary to individuals who request it.
Having someone in Sanctuary goes beyond helping people feel safe and supporting them physically and emotionally, as important as that is. At the same time, MDSC mounts a public campaign to put pressure on ICE to give those seeking Sanctuary a stay of deportation. We as members of the Coalition are called upon to show up in many ways to support the families and individuals we partner with. We make financial donations, participate in prayer vigils, marches and rallies, make phone calls, and write letters.
Deana Schneider, Member of First Universalist Church of Denver
“I began attending First Universalist around the time that the church was supporting Judy and Raul Cardenas in their work to keep Raul from being deported. I hadn’t realized that families were being separated in this manner. I believe strongly in the sanctity of the family and I felt called to join our Immigration Justice Task Force and have been working with them the past few years.
My first direct experience with Sanctuary began last year when I met Ingrid Encalada LaTorre. She had entered Sanctuary at Mountain View Friends Meeting in order to keep her family together. I brought lunch to her and the children a few times and just spent time with them. I thought they might enjoy the food since they couldn’t leave the building and certainly Ingrid could use a listening ear. We became friends. I loved spending time with them. Ingrid is great to be around: a bubbly, joyful presence. Anibal is a typical fun loving toddler and Bryant is a very bright and impressive nine year old. Not only is Ingrid a wonderful mother, she has grown into her role as a leader in immigration rights through this process. Her transformation has been a lovely process to watch and participate in as well. My life has been enriched by taking the time to be with this precious family.
As a congregation committed to “Standing on the Side of Love,” I feel walking with our undocumented brothers and sisters is an important endeavor that we should take seriously.”
Dan Moen, Member of First Universalist Church of Denver & Secretary of Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition
“Below I describe what occurred on January 5th at DIA on a bitterly cold snowy day as I accompanied Isidro, who was facing deportation.
At the customs office at DIA, Isidro was dressed nicely in a new suit. He was obviously nervous and concerned about the meeting like everyone else. We all gathered in a group to meet each other. Isidro took time to hug and thank us for coming. Bryant, his son (26) from a previous marriage brought his wife and two children. Isidro and Bryant hugged and sobbed quietly with one another. Erica, Isidro’s wife stayed close to her husband. She reminded him of how he should respond to Customs questions. Does he have his attorney’s phone number? Searching his wallet he found his attorney’s card. But he wasn’t sure he would be allowed to keep his wallet so he wrote the number on his hand. Gathered around him we all repeated encouragement to him. “Say nothing about the criminal offense; refer them to your attorney,” I said. Something he had already heard at least 20 times this morning from various people. I thought, what can you say that matters at this point? Hug him and his family, and pray? His youngest daughter and son said very little; they just watch their dad blankly. Finally the time was close for him to meet the Customs officer. I asked his pastor Joel (7th Day Adventist) to lead us all in prayer. We all gathered friends, family, news media arms in arms and asked that this man be allowed stay with his family. The time was here. Isidro turned with his wife and left to meet with the Customs official. We watched them leave quietly.
About ten minutes later Isidro and Erica return with half smiles. We gather around again and they tell us the Customs Official he was supposed to meet with was out today; maybe because of weather? A reprieve and his family will have another month of waiting to find out his future.”
Of this courageous movement, Unitarian Universalist Ministers Rev. Kierstin Homblette and Rev. Mike Morran wrote,
“Sanctuary is a faithful response to an invitation from the immigrant community to walk with them and follow their lead as they fight for and insist on justice… We are so grateful for this opportunity, to respond with faith, compassion, and open arms in the midst of a world that so often responds with fear, hatred, and closed doors. And we are so humbled to follow in the footsteps of those before us, our spiritual ancestors who have used the faithful witness of sanctuary to respond to injustice in their time. For sanctuary is a long-standing tradition of the church, in which faith communities offer safe havens to those who seek it. Churches have been offering sanctuary since biblical times, in the times of slavery and the Underground Railroad, during WWII, and during draft in the Vietnam War. The original Sanctuary Movement in the US took place 30 years ago during the 1980s, when churches took in refugees from Central America fleeing U.S.-funded civil wars.
And together in partnership with immigrants and faith partners, we continue that legacy today.
There are senseless forces seeking to break apart a loving family,
seeking to separate a loving husband and father from a loving spouse and their children.
This community of faith believes in families and the love the holds them together.
This community of faith believes that separating this family is a grave injustice.
We do this knowing that our fate, our destiny, and our salvation in this life
are tied up with the fate, the destiny, and the salvation of Arturo and his family,
and so many others.
We do this knowing that there is no “us and them,”
There is only us, working together, praying together,
sharing the same air, the same food, the same life that is God’s life,
hoping together for a better future.
Therefore, Sanctuary is our community, together- immigrants and citizens,
people of faith, people who love our families- saying that we will wait no longer.
We will stay quiet no longer.
If our government will not stand for families, we will.
If our government will not listen to the stories of immigrants experiencing injustice, we will.
If our government will not take the risk and stand up for our founding American beliefs
in freedom, justice, and the pursuit of happiness, we will.”