Local church offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Saratoga City Church is the first in the Capital Region to openly become a sanctuary.

This comes after ICE arrested 16 undocumented immigrants last week.

The church says they’ve been planning this for months and they will not keep it a secret when they house undocumented immigrants.

They want to share their stories to bring awareness to the need for reform.

The Presbyterian New England Congregational Church is opening its doors to undocumented immigrants as a sanctuary.

“We want to assist that person in making his or her circumstances publicly known so that more people in the community would be interested in advocating on the person’s behalf,” Terry Diggory, of the Presbyterian New England Congregational Church, said.

ICE agents avoid raiding churches because it’s considered a sensitive location; however, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Taking shelter in an open sanctuary can meaning staying indoors, for months, as the legal process works itself out.

“I think our congregation is committed to doing whatever it takes to offer assistance.”

In the basement of the church’s Nolan House, an organization already reaching out to immigrants.

Marcia Pappas is the co-director of the Center United, a non-profit providing items for Backstretch workers, but also friendship and safety.

“What people don’t realize is that without racing, and without the hard working people that come from other countries, there would be no Saratoga.”

The center and church are hoping to change the negative public perception of both documented and undocumented immigrants.

For Pappas, it hits home as her grandparents were immigrants.

“I understand the hardships that they faced and I don’t want to see other people face those hardships. So we do here at the center what we can.”

The church is still getting the living space ready and it doesn’t expect to house more than a few undocumented immigrants.

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