DETROIT (WWJ) – “If ICE comes to the door … I’ll deal with them, ” says Rev. Jill Zundell.

Six metro Detroit churches are vowing to take in immigrants who are facing deportation as part of President Trump’s stepped up enforcement.

Zundell, with Central United Methodist Church, is one of them.

“The people at the front desk have been told to call me immediately, and I’ll deal with them, so I’m not sure what happens after that — I’m hoping that they honor that sensitive rule that they have about not entering churches,” says Zundell.

The church is already housing a family seeking asylum from persecution in their home country.

“Her father was murdered for speaking out against the government, the woman, who just got out of the hospital was thrown out of a second floor window,” says Zundell.

Faith leaders joining to offer immigrant sanctuary. (WWJ/Sandra McNeill)

“They literally came with a few suitcases and moved into the apartment we have on the fifth floor, so that’s basically how they connected to us.”

The family was stopped at the Canadian border and are now in immigration limbo.

“Jesus said I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” quotes Zundell. She says they have room for more in a gymnasium space that is unused. “We have a message today for Donald Trump — if you want these families — you’re going to have to come through us.”

Zundell and other leaders believe immigration agents will give churches, hospitals and schools a wide berth.

Reverend Lewis Forsythe is pastor of Detroit’s Pleasant Grove Baptist Church — he compares the effort to those of Harriett Tubman and the freeing of slaves: “Yeah, but it’s really all about families — we are a country that is concerned about people, concerned about families, we do not want to see families broken up.”

How far will you go if ICE comes knocking at the church door?

“I’m going to stand — that’s all I can do. Stand and let God take care of the rest,” said Forsythe.

Rabbi Jeffrey Falick is with the Humanistic Birmingham Temple.
“We are committed to either provide sanctuary if that’s necessary or to help others that are providing sanctuary,” he says.

The Trump administration claims the effort is to weed out those who are here illegally and are possibly a danger to the U.S.

ICE – the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety. ICE was created in 2003 — two years after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11.

We don’t believe that people are illegal says Falick, “the need to keep families together – the need to honor that bond and that promise of America is to me much more important than documentation.”

Three churches in Kalamazoo are also voting on sanctuary status.


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