SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In the midst of efforts to provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, several Springfield congregations are facing one big opponent: the city’s mayor.
According to a news release from the City of Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno has instructed city departments to review the multi-church plan to South Congregational Church’s plans to provide physical sanctuary to undocumented immigrants who are facing deportation.
“We will not stand for the harboring and protecting of illegal and/or criminal activities at this site,” Sarno says in the release.
Sarno, who has previously said he has no intentions of making Springfield a sanctuary city, says in the release that the church’s efforts to provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants would violate several codes, as the building is not designed to be occupied as a housing shelter.
The statement from the mayor’s office goes on to say “No one is against legal immigration aspects, especially those who have played by the rules.”
Faith leaders from six Springfield congregations, along with members of the Pioneer Valley Project, announced the formation of a sanctuary network last Friday.
According to a Pioneer Valley Project news release, the network was formed in response to the increase in immigration enforcement, which they say targets families indiscriminately, and no longer prioritizes those with violent criminal convictions for deportation.
The network says physical sanctuary would be provided at the South Congregational Church on Maple Street, and added that it would be the first congregation to do so in western Massachusetts.