NSM congregations announce sanctuary for families

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New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia joined a dozen cities nation-wide in announcing that our member congregations will provide physical sanctuary to immigrant families with final deportation orders. We defy President Obama’s inhumane immigration policies by moving families into four of our member congregations: Germantown Mennonite Congregation, the Philadelphia Praise Center, a Mennonite congregation in South Philadelphia, Tikkun Olam Chavurah, a Germantown-based Jewish community, and West Kensington Ministry in North Philadelphia.

Immigrant families will move into our member congregations and refuse to leave in a faith-driven civil disobedience against mass deportation. This act of civil disobedience fights the individual case and highlights the injustice of current immigration law. Check out www.sanctuary2014.org to learn more about the nation-wide movement for sanctuary, and our press page here to see local and national coverage.

Pastor Aldo of the Philadelphia Praise Center, a Sanctuary congregation, says, “We answer God’s call by opening our church to bring hope to people in need.”

Rabbi Linda of Tikkun Olam Chavurah, a Sanctuary congregation, led 50 members in a Jewish Rosh Hashanah (New Year) ritual. She says, “Rosh Hashanah starts the New Year with your eyes fully open, able to bring greater justice to your journey in life.” Rabbi Linda shared that many Jewish people in the U.S. are immigrants or children of immigrants, and only survived because others were willing to take them in during the Holocaust.

Teresa, a NSM member at Visitation BVM Parish, says, “The decision of President Obama to postpone his Executive Action and stop deportations violates our faith values to love our fellow human beings, to welcome the strangee and act justly. He has deported more than two million people. We can wait no longer.”

Gerardo of Visitation BVM Church adds that Sanctuary “sends the message that we are creating a world where our families are sacred and we are willing to give everything to lift up theese immigrant families with hope, justice, and faith.”

We demand that President Obama use his Executive Power to end all deportations without exception and create a country of Sanctury – where all are safe, respected, and welcomed, and where economic, spiritual, and emotional wholeness are realized.

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Immigrant led Community Organizing

Our staff manages our campaigns and programs while our members join our working committees to inform our programming, choose our campaigns, and plan our strategies to win. Through conversation and listening, our members and the community on the ground are the ones directing the organization. When people reach out to NSM, they connect with someone who speaks their language, looks like them, and is committed to empowering immigrant communities because they understand their journey and struggle. At NSM, our communities see their peers guiding our mission, creating trust, and allowing members to recognize NSM as an immigrant-led organization.
NSM works to lift the skills of the affected community and dismantle systems of oppression while promoting systems of mutual support, collective liberation, and respect for all people, which is why we provide interpretation services, respect childcare needs, schedule our sessions during times that work best for members who work multiple jobs or cannot meet in person, and allow members to inform us about their individual needs before meetings.
The community leads our work at every level to eliminate unnecessary barriers and meet the varied needs of our members.

Leadership Development

Our Leadership Development Program is a step in recruiting and training new leaders and training. The program blends the skills and experiences members bring from their home countries with NSM’s signature faith-rooted and anti-racist organizing model.

We have curricula for each level of membership, which includes workshops on the history of detention, community organizing, nonviolent protest, campaign strategy, and ongoing anti-racism training. Our programming encourages immigrant leaders to find their voice, understand the power of collective resistance, and join a community of immigrant leaders fighting for transformational systemic changes rooted in social and economic justice.

Leading this initiative is Bertha Murcia, one of NSM's Community Organizers. She is an alumna of NSM’s Promotoras de Justicia immigrant leadership program and oversees member engagement.

Build Community Power

NSM’s organizing efforts emphasize community building, inviting people to new roles, deepening Black and Brown solidarity, long-term leadership development, and impactful campaigns.

We build a base of people from our 33 congregations and Accompaniment Team and direct that people-power to fight specific campaigns. Staff members work with immigrant members to choose our campaigns, guide our strategies, lead events, and ensure our work is focused on meeting the needs of Philadelphia’s various immigrant communities.

Having a hands-on role in changing policy allows our members to gain a sense of empowerment, confidence, and self-respect. Empowering immigrants of color to organize collectively is part of NSM’s long haul work to create a people-powered movement for immigrant justice.