Sanctuary Project Resolution: (Passed by Congregational Vote at Annual Meeting 20 May 2018)
Consistent with the Unitarian Universalist principles affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person with justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; we declare ourselves as a Sanctuary Congregation in alignment with the Iowa Sanctuary Movement.
We will open our doors and our hearts to receive a guest or guests seeking Sanctuary because of their immigration status and provide hospitality during their stay with assistance from other congregations.
We will continue to advocate for fair and compassionate national immigration policies that will create long-term opportunities and welcoming communities.
Sanctuary Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What legal concerns might we encounter? Is providing Sanctuary illegal?
Because sanctuary is most commonly provided in conjunction with a public declaration of who the person in Sanctuary is, and why they are being provided sanctuary, there is no intent to conceal. No congregation has been prosecuted in the last 40 years for providing Sanctuary as long as they announce Sanctuary. The exception is if a judicial (not ICE) warrant is issued.
What is the legal risk to volunteers?
There has not been any legal risk to volunteers with a Sanctuary church, unless they are transporting. It is possible for someone in the building to be caught up in a sweep by ICE. We will detail possible risks and scenarios in the training for volunteers.
Could they take away our non-profit status?
Declaring or providing Sanctuary should not have any impact on nonprofit status.
What stops ICE from coming in and arresting someone?
Faith communities are one of the enumerated “sensitive locations” identified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as locations where immigration enforcement actions should not occur. It is important to note this is DHS policy, not law. The longstanding policy was clarified in a DHS memo in 2011. It is unknown if the DHS will change this policy in the future.
Can the president override this policy?
Yes. Although it is possible, there is a long history of recognizing the sanctity of faith communities, and in the past when this has been challenged, faith communities have joined together to demand the continued respect of this sanctity, even when the groups agreed on little else.
What if protestors target us? What is the physical risk to volunteers, congregants, and property?
Anytime we take a position of social justice, additional risk comes to the congregation. Risk will be mitigated through training and rapid response teams that include the entire community and by the proactive safety measures being established by the UUCQC Board of Trustees’ Safety Task Force. We have talked with Per Mar about the security system.
What is the physical risk to the guest(s)?
The act of submitting to Sanctuary involves physical, emotional, and spiritual risk. Again, the exact level is unknown but will be mitigated by our safety practices. In addition, we will make some of their living area off-limits to the public and welcome guests into our programs.
Will insurance rates change when we declare Sanctuary?
We are covered for guests living in our facilities. The company was pleased at the prospect of having people onsite 24/7.
What is the risk to our children?
Because we will vet the guest, risks will be equivalent to any other individual working with children in our congregation and lower than with most congregants.
What if there is a medical need or medical emergency?
We have included medical issues in our vetting guidelines. We will work with the guest on how best to address any medical needs that arise. If the guest is unconscious and the guest’s life in danger, then we plan to call emergency services.
How will we pay for Sanctuary?
We plan to fund Sanctuary with funds from partner organizations and congregations, crowd funding, fundraising, and/or grants for justice work.
We have started collecting funds, but congregations who have (had) guests in Sanctuary assure us that we will need more. We have faith that the community will continue to be generous, especially when we welcome a guest into Sanctuary.
Are we going to have money set aside for legal fees?
We’re investigating covering some legal fees. We hope to raise any needed legal funds due to the positive community and congregational support. National non-profit organizations that address this issue may also provide legal and/or financial support.
Is there a need for Sanctuary in the Quad Cities area?
The full need is unknown but growing in this unpredictable political climate. Proactive planning now places us in a position to help as soon as there is a request for Sanctuary. We have had at least one inquiry, but the potential guests have chosen other options.
What physical access will the guest(s) physically have?
They would have designated private space, plus access to bathroom, shower, kitchen, and other public areas of our building when it won’t interfere with programming. This will be part of clear guest guidelines.
Who makes decisions about Sanctuary?
There are many decisions to be made when a guest enters Sanctuary. Key decisions will be assigned to a small group of appointees. During Sanctuary, decisions will be made by guests and volunteers working together.
What goods and services do we need to provide?
The guest(s) will voluntarily confine themselves to the congregational building. We have written a living strategic plan for meeting many needs, including: interpretation, medical care, food, laundry, legal advice, pastoral care, counseling, entertainment, other shopping needs, education, childcare, social needs, and security.
How will we care for our guests?
We have built a coalition of local organizations and congregations who will share the burden of providing successful Sanctuary. We are always looking for new members, especially members considering offering Sanctuary as well.
Can guests leave?
Being protected by Sanctuary means guests must stay on site. Our agreement with them would include ways for either side to terminate Sanctuary. If guests decide they want to pursue another solution, that decision will be honored.
Who will volunteer?
Active volunteer and financial support have been strong. Our informational email list is also constantly growing. We always need donations of time, talent, and treasure.
How will this affect programming?
We anticipate minimal impact. We consulted the RE Team, who identified available living space with no reduction of services. Just like any other guest, Sanctuary guests and their family will be invited to participate in all church programming. Sanctuary guests will also be invited to lead a forum to talk about their unique experience.
Who decides which requests for Sanctuary UUCQC will accept?
There will be a group of 3-5 people appointed and trained to make decisions in line with UUCQC guest approval process.
How do we vet them?
We plan to get as much information as possible from the requesting guests within the first three days and make an official acceptance decision using this information by the end of day three.
Where do I find guest guidelines?
The Sanctuary Task Force has made guidelines for the guest and their family to follow with input from the congregation. These will serve as a draft to be discussed and changed in partnership with the guest and their family.
How will we identify people in need of sanctuary?
We hope people will reach out to us when the need arises through partnerships in the local community. We will spread the word about Sanctuary through our partnerships and local media.
What impact will Sanctuary have on rental income stream?
Guidelines specify that guests must stay out of rooms being rented. Sanctuary will not directly interfere with rental revenue, though some might choose our building in part due to our efforts to provide Sanctuary.
How many guests would be allowed into Sanctuary? Families, individuals, or both?
We plan to accept only one person or family at a time. The size of the family is limited by the size of the rooms that may legally function as bedrooms.
How will we recruit volunteers? Who will lead the training of volunteers? How will UUCQC support volunteers?
Volunteer coordinator(s) will be appointed to lead efforts in recruitment, training, and support. Some coordinator positions will be limited to UUCQC congregants, but some are open to Sanctuary Coalition members.
Volunteers are being recruited from the congregation and larger community. There’s no way to predict volunteer commitment until challenged. Volunteering is the best way to support volunteers, as there will be more hands to share the work. We encourage volunteers to commit to what they can fulfill without harming themselves.
What training will be provided for volunteers?
All volunteers will receive an orientation and additional training according to their special area. Volunteers will be trained in policies in their area, including how to best protect themselves and guests, as needed. Training on probable risk levels of each position is included.
Learn more about the:
Volunteer with the growing Sanctuary Coalition