Mukta Mohan

The Sanctuary Movement then and now

Mukta Mohan
The Sanctuary Movement then and now

This idea of home is really interesting to me especially when it comes to immigration. Both of my parents are immigrants - my mom is from Mexico and my dad is from India. I grew up knowing how hard it is to try to make it in a country where you don’t know the language well or the norms or how systems operate. So when I hear news of family separations at the border and refugees and immigrants who’ve established their lives here facing risk of deportation, it’s devastating. But as you may know, Los Angeles is a Sanctuary City and Long Beach recently approved Sanctuary City status too -- that means that local governments want to reduce fear of deportation and family separation so that undocumented people won’t be afraid to use social services or report violence when necessary. There’s no precise legal definition to this but it does mean that police will likely not be questioning your average mom or dad dropping off their children at school.

I was surprised to learn that the concept of a Sanctuary City actually has their roots in churches from the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s when asylum seekers from Central America were coming to the U.S. At the time, churches and temples offered services and even a place to stay to people at risk of deportation. Now, in 2018, there's a new Sanctuary Movement. I talked to Sociology Professor at Cal State Long Beach Dr. Norma Chinchilla about what sanctuary means, how the movement is interfaith, and how the work has changed since it first started.

Dr. Norma Chinchilla at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach

Dr. Norma Chinchilla at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach