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Columnist Susan Ladd on breaking the law to do what’s right

If you’ve been following the story of Juana Luz Tobar Ortega, the High Point grandmother who is seeking sanctuary from deportation in a Greensboro church, you need to read Susan Ladd’s column today.

Ladd, the columnist for the News & Record in Greensboro, puts Ortega’s story – and the story of those now protecting her – in historical context.

The shelter offered by religious organizations is not legally binding, but ICE generally avoids arrests at ”sensitive locations,” including houses of worship, unless the case involves national security, terrorism or public safety. But houses of worship are not excluded from the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibits anyone from knowingly harboring an undocumented immigrant.

It isn’t the first time people of faith in Greensboro broke the law to do what their beliefs told them was right. Quaker leader Levi Coffin helped create the Underground Railroad, which ran through what is now the Guilford College campus, to offer both sanctuary and safe passage for slaves. Ministers at African-American churches supported the four N.C. A&T students who openly defied segregation by sitting at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960.

It’s a context the faith community in Greensboro had no trouble seeing when coming to the crossroads they now face.

As the leaders of diverse faith communities in the Triad gathered on the porch of FaithAction International House on Tuesday to express their support for immigrants, there were echoes of other times and places in which leaders of different faiths, different backgrounds and different ethnicities locked arms in solidarity.

They opposed the laws of segregation then, just as they oppose the laws of immigration now.

“We as faith leaders and immigration leaders and clergy are here to say, nothing, no policy or elected official, will keep us from serving, loving and protecting our neighbors,” said David Fraccaro, executive director of FaithAction. “We are committed … to hold ICE and our elected officials accountable for our most sacred of shared religious values, of dignity, welcoming and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Ladd writes that Ortega’s dilemma has brought together many different faith communities in Greensboro, one of the state’s most diverse cities.

At the office of Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), where they asked for his intervention, supporters of Ortega sang, “You will know we are Christians by our love.”

Given the participation in this community, you could add Muslims, Buddhists and Jews to that list.

If we are known by our hate instead of our love, we have shamed ourselves not only as people of faith but as Americans.

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