In California, a Jewish woman and a Baptist minister have united to protect a mixed-status immigrant family that could be torn apart by deportation. While the two daughters were born in the U.S., their parents weren’t. Last year, their dad was deported after decades here and their mom, who is also undocumented, feared a similar fate. The family was homeless for months until Rev. Zachary Hoover, a sanctuary leader, helped guide the family to a “safe house.” For their protection, the family and the Jewish woman who signed the apartment lease have not been identified. “In a statement, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, ‘Knowingly harboring an alien is a federal crime’”:

Hoover, a youthful, slight, optimistic minister seems an unlikely organizer for a network directly sticking its thumb in the eye of the federal government on moral grounds. But then the ordained American Baptist minister, who is fluent in Spanish, begins to speak.

“My particular call in the gospel is to be in partnership and stand beside people who are most attacked, who are most at risk, who are most suffering,” he says.

Since the 2016 presidential election, the sanctuary movement has seen a resurgence. More than 800 congregations pledged to protect immigrants and “more than 2,000 congregations have trained in rapid response across the country, most of them in California,” according to CNN. “The network of safe houses has dozens of undocumented immigrant families who are hiding from ICE at any given time. The goal, says Hoover, is merely to keep families together.” There is very real fear of the government’s reprisal, the reverend says, but it won’t stop him. “We are asked to love our neighbors as ourselves. Ripping children away from their parents under the pretense of community safety when these are our neighbors and churchgoers? No.”

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