Houston pastor will offer sanctuary to immigrants willing to be US citizens

Houston pastor will offer sanctuary to immigrants willing to be US citizens
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A Houston-based pastor will offer sanctuary to migrants who are willing to speak to attorneys about applying for asylum and becoming full U.S. citizens.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Pastor Robert Stearns of the Houston-based Living Water International Apostolic Ministries has opened the church's doors as a sanctuary to migrants needing a place to stay, but says those who admit to crossing the border illegally will have to speak with U.S. officials and eventually go through the legal immigration system.

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The sanctuary offer was reportedly set up at the request of Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeJackson Lee: 'Racism is a national security threat' Most oppose cash reparations for slavery: poll Poll: Most Americans oppose reparations MORE (D-Texas), whose office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

Stearns told the AP that church officials who are approached by migrants seeking shelter at the church, which puts them typically out of the reach of law enforcement, would assist migrants in speaking with Jackson Lee's staffers as well as attorneys experienced in representing immigrants with asylum claims.

“We’re not going to throw you to the wolves. What we’re going to do is set the attorneys in place for you if you’re willing to go through that process,” he told the news service. “If you don’t want to do that, there’s nothing I can do for you.”

Other churches across the country are also reportedly providing shelter and aid to migrants seeking to make new lives in the U.S. The Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service told the AP that many of its partner churches were providing sanctuary to migrants and were seeking aid to connect those people to attorneys.

“The response has been incredible,” the group's president, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, told the AP. “Churches are saying they want to be part of this — some have offered to provide safe spaces or meals. Some who have existing sanctuary spaces are now saying they need the legal services.”