The Sanctuary Movement emerged first in the U.S. during the 1980s Central American refugee crisis. Places of worship opened their doors to protect immigrants without legal status fleeing violence. In 2007, religious leaders in Chicago and California, plus Juan Carlos Ruiz, then a Catholic priest working with a Mexican immigrant organization in New York City, envisioned a “New Sanctuary Movement,” to engage faith-based groups specifically in support of the 12 million immigrants living in the US without legal status to stay here. This New Sanctuary Movement proposed to give “sanctuary” to deportable immigrants, many of whom had U.S.-citizen children. Instead of hiding them, the New Sanctuary Movement proposed to publicize their stories: to put a human face on the issues, raise public awareness of their plight, and encourage legislative reform. (Text adapted from New Sanctuary Coalition)
New York City has become a major center for this New Sanctuary Movement, with Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square Park serving as a hub of activism. Since the Trump Administration’s assault on immigrants began in January 2017, the New Sanctuary Movement has grown to support the increased demand for protection of immigrants. NYU began a Sanctuary Coalition at that time which has worked closely with New Sanctuary Coalition and has mounted pressure on NYU to declare the campus a sanctuary from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through awareness campaigns and direct confrontation of university administrators. The Music department joined these efforts early on by signing onto a key petition and offering organizing capacity and equipment and space for Sanctuary activities.