Hundreds of churches across America are defying the US government and offering support and sanctuary to immigrants who face deportation. Some of them have literally offered a resting space to people, aware that federal agents are unlikely to carry out arrests inside their premises.

Against a backdrop of rising anti-immigrant rhetoric as the election campaign has gathered pace and a series of arrests of undocumented migrants by federal agents, the churches have spoken out against what they say are unChristian and inhumane attitudes.

They say that families are getting torn apart, and in many cases parents being forced to make agonising decisions about whether or not to leave behind a child who was born in the US if they themselves are forcibly deported.

“We think it is our duty to show welcome and support to those in need,” said Pastor Noel Anderson, a coordinator with the non-profit group Church World Service. “These are all values that are passed on in our faith traditions.”

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