Immigrants confronting ICE need to know their rights. They can refuse ICE entry (without a judicial warrant), remain silent and refuse to sign documents without a lawyer present. For Know Your Rights Cards, http://www.ilrc.org/files/documents/kyr__ no_phone.pdf
Immigrant parents can prepare notarized instructions for churches/ministries to care for their children in case of detention.
Neighborhood-based rapid response networks can allow churches/ministries to arrive in time to document and pray, discouraging abuse and perhaps even stopping detention. (see www.sanctuaryphiladelphia. org for one group’s detailed strategy)
Immigrants can live temporarily in churches, allowing for some degree of protection while other remedies are sought. This is commonly referred to as the practice of providing sanctuary, rooted in the Cities of Refuge provisions in Numbers 35 which give God’s remedy for situations in which the response to a legal violation is unjust punishment. For toolkits on sanctuary, www.sanctuarynotdeportation.org is the website of the national association of interfaith sanctuary coalitions. Sanctuary coalitions have also carried out “cyber-sanctuary” which allows a group of congregations to send a letter to ICE stating that an individual or family is in sanctuary with them. If that person is then picked up by ICE, they have been able to go down to the detention center and successfully apply pressure through prayer vigils and other actions for that person’s release pending their deferred deportation or asylum application. While the act of physical sanctuary could potentially be construed as breaking the law, there are numerous legal defenses, including a defense based in the separation of church and state (giving the church the right to minister to anyone regardless of immigration status.) No church has ever been successfully prosecuted for harboring undocumented immigrants.