A growing number of churches in Austin are now volunteering to offer physical shelter or support to illegal aliens.
It comes as no surprise in Travis County whose sheriff was recently called out by ICE this month for not granting detainers for illegal aliens. But it puts federal officials in a tough spot, likely not wanting the bad publicity if they raid a church.
“That's what it amounts to, knowing there are groups just trying to bait them into do that,” says Jessica Vaughan, director of policy stuides at the Center for Immigration Studies.
“No church or anything else is going to change the fact that this person is deportable and cannot evade ICE forever, and they will make an arrest at a time and place of their choosing.”
Vaughan says the churches within the Austin Sanctuary Network are thumbing their nose at immigration officials, even by acknowledging publicly what their plans are.
“That way they're not actually shielding them from detection, everybody knows this person is hanging out there, so they are deliberately trying to avoid prosecution,” she says. “But I'm not so sure that would stand up in court if ICE actually chose to push the issue.”