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Arizona churches shelter migrants facing deportation

Wed 06 Jan 2016
By Hannah Tooley

A number of churches in Arizona are offering refuge to migrants in the region after a crackdown was launched to deport people who entered the United States illegally. 

The Department of Homeland Security has launched an effort to remove adults and children who remained in the country after being ordered to leave.

So far more than 120 people have been taken into custody according to USA Today.

Several churches have announced that they will offer sanctuary to immigrants, mainly Central Americans, who face deportation.

Revd Noel Andersen, coordinator for the Church World Service interfaith coalition, said: "We're seeing a real united front in the faith community that these raids are immoral, that we should not be targeting people who have fled violence, who will be sent back to perhaps a violent situation that could be fatal."

Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix is another church considering offering sanctuary to Central American families facing deportation.

Revd Ken Heintzelman, the head pastor, told USA Today he believes that it is a moral duty to protect people fleeing violence: "Migration is a natural human phenomenon that when people are hungry they move where the food is, when they are thirsty, they move where the water is and where there is violence, they move away from the violence.

"What we have done with our laws is we have criminalized a natural human phenomenon, and that is wrong. That's immoral."

The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement saying that the campaign to deport people "should come as no surprise."

It read: "I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed."

He stressed that people being searched for had no remaining appeals outstanding or claim for asylum left under the law.

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