Raleigh meeting discusses setting up area ‘sanctuary churches’

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Sunday, church leaders worked to keep immigrants in the country discussing the creation of safe havens in the Triangle known as “sanctuary churches.”

Packed in a meeting room at Community United Church of Christ in Raleigh, dozens of church leaders listened to Mosa Hamadeesa’s story.

“We run away from a war and a dangerous area. We ask for help from the United States,” said Hamadeesa.

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Hamadeesa says he fled Palestine more than a decade ago. He made Raleigh his home, opened a business and laid down roots in North Carolina.

But now he’s fighting deportation.

“They flipped my life upside down,” he said.

He’s not alone.

“They’re scared to death,” said David Mateo.

Mateo is a reverend at United Church of Chapel Hill, but he’s also an immigrant. He says every day he hears stories of fear from his congregation; like one immigrant-mother who says goodbye to her children every day before work.

He says every day he hears stories of fear from his congregation, such as one immigrant-mother who says goodbye to her children every day before work.

“I need to hug you as if it’s the last time I’ll hug you because I don’t know if I will come back,”  Mateo said the woman tells her children.

That’s why churches like Mateo’s and dozens of others are learning what it takes to become sanctuaries.

A sanctuary church means opening its doors to immigrants and their families who face deportation, giving them a place to essentially live while also providing a network of support.

It’s an effort, but one church leaders, like Mateo, say is worth it.

“I’ve seen them cry. I’ve seen them suffering,” he said.

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