The Sanctuary Movement

As the war in El Salvador heated up, CISPES became active in a movement to provide safe-haven for Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict. The Sanctuary Movement was a religious and political campaign that began in the early 1980s which responded to restrictive federal immigration policies that made obtaining asylum difficult for Central Americans. At its peak, Sanctuary involved over 500 congregations across the country that, by declaring themselves official “sanctuaries,” committed to providing shelter, material goods and often legal advice to Central American refugees

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  1. I remember seeing a woman from madres de los desaparecidos from El Salvador speak in Northampton, MA in the mid-1980’s. Then, I joined Northampton Committee on Central America and handed out literature at Thornes Market while telling passerbys,”Your taxes are killing people in El Salvador.” It was the worst of times and the best of times.

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