HOUSTON — A Houston church is taking a stance against immigration raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
On Saturday, lawmakers and church leaders announced the first of its kind emergency refuge at Living Water International Ministries.
The church is opening its doors for people needing a place to hide.
In a press conference on Saturday, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said targeted raids have terrified the community.
She said in less than 24 hours churches came together to help those in need.
“I had to come up with some way that there would be a place that some family, even if it’s just one, would find a place to be able to come,” Rep. Jackson Lee said.
Watch on Facebook: Full press conference with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and community leaders
Living Water Church is one of several churches that are mobilizing.
“These churches are doing nothing wrong," said Rep. Jackson Lee. “They’re doing it in the spirit of their faith. I cannot imagine anyone that will have the legal authority or would push into this house of worship.”
The church has stocked up supplies like food and clothes to provide relief.
They hope flyers with information on immigrants’ rights will be shared throughout the community.
ICE has a policy to avoid “sensitive locations” like churches but under the law they can still serve warrants if needed.
READ: ‘Chasing crooks, not cooks’ | Houston law enforcement officials have strong words against potential ICE raids
“When did 'immigrant' become a bad word. When did 'sanctuary' become a bad word. I’m surrounded by pastors and correct me if I’m wrong, but Jesus sought sanctuary from persecution and so if we want to call sanctuary a bad word then take it up with Jesus,” said Cesar Espinosa, executive director of FIEL.
Rep. Jackson Lee hopes houses of worship are respected.
“We’re not going to lose all of our moral compass. No, this is off limits,” she said.
They hope other churches will also open their doors to create a safe space for people who need help.
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