By Cyra Master
May 21, 2017
As immigration enforcement and deportations increase under President Trump, some religious leaders are striking back.
Rev. Robin Hynicka of a Methodist church in Philadelphia and the city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, spoke with “60 Minutes” for a Sunday report on sanctuary cities and sanctuary congregations.
Hynicka’s congregation is circumventing immigration law and shelters an undocumented immigrant in its church. His is one of more than 800 houses of worship across the country offering such sanctuary, “60 Minutes’” Scott Pelley noted.
“When a law breaks the backs of God’s people then it’s time for us to think about breaking those laws,” Hynicka said.
His church is shielding Flores Garcia, who has three U.S. citizen children but has a deportation order against him because of a decade-old DUI charge and for repeatedly crossing the border.
But Hynicka says that’s “injustice and oppression, all of which is evil.”
“When a human being’s human rights are denied, when they can’t stay with their family, when they can’t work, when they can’t participate in the community in which they have deep roots, all of those apply.”
While Immigration and Customs enforcement can legally arrest Garcia and others in churches, it has a longstanding policy of avoiding places of worship, schools and hospitals.
President Trump signed an executive order earlier this year barring federal funds for Philadelphia and the nearly 600 other sanctuary cities in the country.
ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale told “60 Minutes” he understands the human toll of immigration enforcement. “As a human being, I know it is traumatic for folks,” he said. “But I will also say that the rule of law is something that America is built on.”
Ragsdale said his advice for people like Garcia is, “they should come out of the basement of the churches and follow the law.”
Asked if he feels conflicted, Hynicka said there’s no conflict between preaching moral conduct while shielding immigrants and breaking the law.
“There’s no conflict. I think– I’ve said this before that when a law breaks the backs of God’s people, then it’s time for us to think about breaking those laws.”
Mayor Kenney says that his sanctuary city is upholding the constitution by protecting the rights of immigrants.
“If you come to the country without documents because you’re starving in your country or you’re being held hostage by drug dealers or you’re afraid your children are gonna be shot in the streets or on their farm, I think that that’s self-preservation and self-survival. And any group of people would flock to America because that’s been the historic place where people came to be saved.”
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com