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ICE Raids Divide American Christians

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Pope Francis meets President Donald Trump at the Vatican on May 24th, 2017.

In the run up to what the Trump administration said would be widespread immigration enforcement raids Sunday, countless places of worship across the country declared themselves sanctuary spaces for immigrants. Those places of worship joined what experts have characterized as a growing movement of religious communities opening their doors to non-citizens in order to prevent family separations that they say run counter to their faiths. But with white Evangelical Christian Americans still overwhelmingly backing the Trump administration, the sudden outpouring of support for immigrants also revealed the growing fissures between American faith communities wrought by the White House‘s immigration policy.

President Donald Trump said on Monday that the immigration raids slated for Sunday were “very successful,” but immigration advocates have suggested that there were few signs of Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity in the administration’s 10 target cities, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

In the United States, there is no law barring ICE from enforcing at churches; instead the agency has established guidance for agents suggesting that they “avoid conducting enforcement activities at sensitive locations unless they have prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or in the event of exigent circumstances,” an ICE official told Pacific Standard in April. “The locations specified in the guidance include schools, places of worship, and hospitals.”

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