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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Seattle churches vow to protect immigrants — like they did in the 1980s

Faith communities gather on May Day 2017 at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood to declare their support for immigrants and refugees.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna
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Faith communities gather on May Day 2017 at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood to declare their support for immigrants and refugees.

The sanctuary movement that was part of the Seattle faith community in the 1980s is back.

Seattle area churches and allies came together Monday morning at St. Mark’s Cathedral on Capitol Hill to reaffirm their commitment to protect immigrants and refugees. It was a time for prayer, reflection and open declaration to take action. Faith communities say they want to do more than simply voice support for sanctuary cities.

Michael Ramos is executive director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle that’s leading the effort. He says unlike the 80s, when the churches were helping refugees fleeing Central America, many of the people who need help today already live here and have real fears of deportation.

“This is a new time for faith communities to step forward intentionally and consciously to say we need to exercise our mission of welcoming these people, including opening up our sacred spaces,” Ramos said.

Some churches will offer shelter to immigrants and refugees. Others will provide moral support. Ramos said there are many different ways congregations will help people who are at risk of being separated from their families.

“Their situation is changing dramatically, where they have a real fear of deportation,” Ramos said, “and we need to accompany them so they can survive and thrive just like the rest of us.”

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