Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona, spearheaded the revival of the sanctuary movement this year, which looks to grant “sanctuary” to undocumented immigrants currently facing deportation by federal officials. It is in the heart of a Latino neighbourhood and physically closer to the realities of the border. In contrast, Tempe’s University Presbyterian Church is in a mainly white, affluent neighbourhood near Arizona State’s campus. While Arizona is infamous for its checkpoints, workplace and home raids and other forms of harsh enforcement of immigration law, that enforcement is almost never carried out in this type of neighbourhood.
The University Presbyterian Church is where Luis Lopez-Acabal has found sanctuary. Growing up in Guatemala, a local mara, or gang, began trying to conscript him when he turned 16. After weeks of avoiding the group, they cornered him and gave him an ultimatum: 24 hours to either join, leave, or die. Within a few hours, his family put him on a bus headed north and eventually found himself in Arizona.
You can read the full moving story by Alice Ollstein, and fond out more about the sanctuary movement, on the Think Progress website here.