Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Creates Safe Haven for Immigrants and Encourages Other Churches to Do the Same

(Photo: The Christian Post/Napp Nazworth)
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez (L), president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in this July 2013 file photo.

The Latino pastor who prayed at President Trump’s inauguration is opening his church to those who fear deportation under the president’s new immigration policy–and encouraging other churches to do the same.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), has 30 cots set up at New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, California. He told CBN News “our safe haven program exists…for anyone who feels their family is under assault or threat.”

Rodriguez is also encouraging the 40,000+ NHCLC churches to set up their own safe haven programs. He says the initiative differs from the sanctuary church movement. “We are serving the needs, regardless of their status,” said Rodriguez adding “we’ve never asked for their status.”

New Season opened its shelter after the President issued an executive order in January that expanded the federal deportation policy. Although Rodriguez supports deporting criminals, he says he has a great deal of angst about the families that were separated in the aftermath. “Terrific people were harmed,” he said noting that many parents were deported, leaving behind their children who are U.S. citizens.

Rodriguez says he doesn’t believe the President intended to harm “God-fearing, hard-working families.” He blames the deportations on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memos signed by Sec. John Kelly. “The Kelly memo is so ambiguous,” said Rodriguez.

Since January, half a dozen families have used Rodriguez’s church as a safe haven, some because of immigration concerns and some because of fears about domestic abuse.

The NHCLC’s safe haven program differentiates itself from the sanctuary church movement with its no-questions-asked policy. Conversely, sanctuary churches exist to help immigrants who say explicitly that they’re facing deportation.

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Heather Sells