Our Sanctuary Resolution

There was a special meeting of the congregation on Sunday April 9th after the service to discuss and vote on becoming a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants. The congregation voted yes!

No human being is illegalThe Board of Trustees proposed that our congregation adopt this resolution to state its commitment to helping provide places of refuge for undocumented immigrants at risk of harsh deportation measures.

The Sanctuary Resolution

Adopted by the Board of Trustees on February 19, 2017. Adopted by the Congregation on April 9, 2017

Background – Some Frequently Asked Questions

A committee of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Team have some information to help us understand the sanctuary concept.

There are three possible roles for UU Princeton as a sanctuary congregation:

  1. To support congregations serving as physical sanctuary sites for undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.
  2. To advocate for the principles of the Sanctuary movement locally and nationally.
  3. To serve as a physical sanctuary site should the current administration engage in unjust immigration enforcement and should our Executive Team determine that our congregation has the space and resources to serve as such a site.

It is our hope that these actions will not only serve undocumented people but will also discourage the use of harsh deportation measures.

As the resolution passed, the Executive Team will create a Sanctuary Task Force of lay leaders and staff, with Board representation, to engage the congregation in these promises and to inform the congregation of progress in moving toward serving as a physical Sanctuary site. The Executive Team will keep the Board apprised of progress in all areas.

You can read the sanctuary FAQs below or print/open this pdf file.

I. Advocating for Sanctuary

Q1: Will the congregation be engaging in advocacy efforts for a just immigration policy, in addition to acting as a sanctuary?

II. Providing Support for Sanctuary

Q1: Is it likely that we could collaborate with other Princeton area churches in hosting one or more immigrants? With other churches elsewhere in the country?

Q2: Would support be available from the UUA? If so, what kind?

Q3: How might the congregation work with immigrants’ rights organizations in this effort?

III. Issues to Address When Discerning Whether and How to Offer Physical Sanctuary

Q1: What is the basic rationale for the congregation to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants? Isn’t it the case that such immigrants have broken the law? Why should we, as a church, take this action?

Q2: The proposed congregational resolution says we will serve as a physical sanctuary site should the current administration engage in unjust immigration enforcement. What would we consider to be “unjust immigration enforcement”?

Q3: When and how does offering sanctuary start and end?

Q4. What happens if the person in sanctuary loses their case?

Q5. Under what circumstances does a person need typically need sanctuary?

Q6. How would we find out that there is a person who needs sanctuary?

Q7: How do we decide if we want a specific person to come into sanctuary? How would they be vetted?

Q8: How many immigrants would the congregation propose to house?

Q9. What if we take someone into sanctuary and later decide it isn’t working out?

Q10. What if the person wants to leave sanctuary?

Q11: What are the practical considerations about housing people on the church property?

Q12: Would there be an impact on church activities?

Q13: What about the Cherry Hill Nursery School at our church?

Q14: Can the person in sanctuary leave to go shopping? To the doctor? To work?

Q15: Who “pays” for the person in sanctuary?

Q16: What stops ICE, Border Patrol or local law enforcement from coming in and arresting someone in sanctuary? Could the congregation be at legal risk?

Q17: Are there any issues with local zoning or other laws if the congregation is housing someone in sanctuary?

Q18: What if our insurance says they will drop us? Or deny coverage of anything related to providing sanctuary?


The Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice, in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and UURISE, has provided a number of resources, including the Sanctuary Toolkit, February 2017, which provided a significant amount of the information included in these FAQs. See UUCSJ.org. Please note that this is a living document, subject to frequent revision. It is not intended to provide legal advice.