Boulder church latest to welcome immigrants fearing deportation

BOULDER, Colo. — More religious leaders in Colorado are opening their doors to help immigrants resist deportation.

Additional safe havens are needed as more people are being arrested by federal agents, according to immigration advocates.

On Sunday, parishioners at Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder voted to welcome immigrants facing possible deportation.

Government statistics show U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests have increased even though deportations have slowed in the fiscal year 2017 compared to last year.

Cases similar to the high-profile stories of Ingrid LaTorre and Rene Lima-Marin have turned into long legal sagas, sparking fears of deportation throughout immigrant communities.

“We are seeing an increase,” said Rev. Kelly Dignan of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder.

Immigration advocates report an increase of those turning to places of faith for help.

Reports indicate five people in Colorado are taking sanctuary in a church or temple. Dignan is preparing a room to transition her church into a sanctuary host congregation.

“Immigrants can come and have a safe haven for their body and spirit while they resist their deportations,” Dignan said.

ICE considers churches and schools sensitive locations, where in most cases, enforcement action is forbidden.

In March, leadership of Denver’s Catholic Archdiocese said sanctuary is not the solution, but it’s a Christian duty to help someone in need.

The Catholic Church in northern Colorado will not close a door on anyone, according to Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez.

Dignan said her church and others are working with Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition to identify immigrants who are out of options and needing a safe haven.