Our Unitarian Universalist faith calls us to recognize that no one is “illegal”; and to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We bear witness to the interdependent web of life and know that the struggle for immigrant families to find safety in our community is our struggle. The Sanctuary Movement has a long history rooted in the conviction of people of faith and guided by the prophetic voices of immigrant leaders.
On August 27, 2017, our congregation came together to hold a historic vote. After months of discernment and dialogue, we decided together to become a sanctuary congregation. As the vote said: “We hereby designate ourselves as a Sanctuary Congregation…. affirming our willingness to receive a guest seeking sanctuary into our congregation and to provide hospitality support for them during their stay….We pledge to resist any policies that target and/or deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities. And we will accompany our immigrant neighbors in their journey for justice and safety.”
In the fall of 2017, Ingrid Encalada Latore made the courageous choice to seek sanctuary with us to keep her family together. Ingrid and her two children, Bryant and Anibal, lived with us for X weeks until moving to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder to be closer to family and for ongoing sanctuary.
In July of 2019, we again opened our doors to Lorenzo and his son Pedro (last names undisclosed given their open asylum case). Thankfully, after just 48hrs in sanctuary Lorenzo’s immigration attorney received notification from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that Lorenzo was no longer a priority for deportation. None of us expected such a quick turnaround – and what we can assume is that ICE did not want the press coverage of a family – with an open asylum case – being broken apart because of an accidentally-missed check-in appointment earlier that month.
Vision: As immigration policies shift underneath our feet and individuals and families continue to make the courageous choice to keep their families together, we have learned that sanctuary must not only be in our building – but that Sanctuary must be Everywhere.
In partnership with immigrant-led community organizations in Fort Collins, we are answering the call of Love by co-creating villages of support to companion asylum seekers as they enter our community. As our sanctuary work expands, our doors remain open to receive a sanctuary guest who is resisting their deportation order.
Impact: Our pilot village launched in the spring of 2019 when two Foothills members worked with community partners to parole one woman from the private detention center in Aurora, CO and welcome her into their home while her asylum case unfolds.
A village of six Foothills members and friends have encircled our first compañera, Spanish for companion – or “compa” for short – to provide emotional support, to connect her to community resources and to reaffirm her humanity in a dehumanizing system.
And, our doors remain open to sanctuary guests resisting their deportation orders.
Future: Our hope is to create a sustainable model for other faith-based communities to do the work of supporting asylum seekers fleeing violence in their home countries hoping to find freedom and community in Northern Colorado.
“This has been among the most meaningful work of my life – challenging and personally transformative, as I learn to hold space for folks in difficult circumstances, and how to be helpful – as I experience both powerlessness and privilege in the system, and as I reflect upon my approach and assumptions so I can dismantle, rather than replicate, white supremacy culture.” – Cindy Conlin, Pilot Village co-coordinator
Join our Sanctuary Everywhere group here and signup for our next volunteer training.
Northern Colorado Emergency Immigration Fund
A fund of the Interfaith Sanctuary and Accompaniment Coalition (ISAAC), managed by Foothills Unitarian Church. Funds are distributed to those who are facing a crisis as a direct result of current immigration policies and practices. Give here.