Sanctuary and the Global Migration Regime webinar series

Fellowship of Reconciliation USA
8 min readMay 19, 2021


The Fellowship of Reconciliation in partnership with the International Sanctuary Declaration Campaign and the Ecumenical Committee on Church Asylum (Germany) is pleased to announce a four-session international webinar series: “Sanctuary and the Global Migration Regime” to be hosted this May and June.

The programs will be held on May 25, June 2, June 14, and June 18, 2021, each webinar beginning at 1:00 p.m. US Eastern time (New York) / 19:00 CET (Berlin)/ 10:00 a.m. US Pacific (Los Angeles) — in English language with simultaneous interpretation into German.

Each 90-minute webinar is offered for free, with no cost to attend, but registration is required. To register via email, contact:

  1. Creating places of survival and safety on the run (Tuesday, May 25, 2021)
  2. Creating spaces of safety and empowerment during asylum procedures (Wednesday, June 2, 2021)
  3. Creating spaces of safety when facing deportation and building transformative alliances (Monday, June 14, 2021)
  4. Reflection and Action (Friday, June 18, 2021)

The tragedies of death in the Mediterranean and in the Arizona Desert are the recently most prominent examples of how man-made borders turn natural boundaries into places of death. Still, members of the human family will always find ways to cross when being on the run and searching a place of safety and a better future. Migration is as old as humankind itself is. As is the resistance against those who try to control migration by those who migrate.

In recent years, we see an increasing militarization of the western border regimes, an expansion of migration control and the externalization of European and U.S. borders to the Asian, African, and Latin American continents. Also, we see an increased public presence of immigrant-led groups raising attention and action against the brutalities of the border regimes. Faith-based communities in North America and Europe have used their power and privilege to support people on the run, during the asylum procedures and against deportation. Yet, only few would see providing sanctuary as one part of diverse activities against border regimes and for justice and dignity. In our webinar series, we want to explore different perspectives on these issues and learn from each other’s’ struggles.

We want to raise and discuss the following questions:

  • How do people manage to be safe despite the violence of global migration regimes?
  • What should faith communities learn from immigrant-led struggles and activism against border regimes?
  • How can we not reproduce inequalities while trying to overcome the racist division that nurtures those border regimes?
  • Who is saving whom from whom?


May 25, 2021, 1:00–2:30 p.m. EDT: “Creating places of survival and safety on the run”

  • Maglaha Hamma, from Western Sahara, was born and lives in refugee camps in southwestern Algeria. She works in peace building, nonviolence, and human rights. Maglaha was the head of the nonviolence organization in Western Sahara. She has worked with children, women, and youth to promote peace building despite the difficulty of refugees and the ongoing conflict. She is currently head of the Peace Dialogue Project in Western Sahara and advocate of the African Union Peace Charter.
  • John Fife is the co-founder of the Sanctuary Movement in North America in the 1980’s that protected refugees from Central America from deportation and created a New Underground Railroad from Central America to Canada. He served as Pastor of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A. for 35 years, and was the elected leader of the Presbyterian Church, USA in 1993. He is a founding volunteer of the humanitarian aid organization No More Deaths, providing life-saving services to migrants and refugees on the US/Mexico borderlands and documenting the violations of human rights by the US government.
  • Tamino Böhm is an activist with Sea-Watch. At the end of 2014, Sea-Watch grew out of an initiative of volunteers who could not stand on the sidelines witnessing people dying in the Mediterranean Sea any longer. At the end of January 2020, Sea-Watch and the coalition United4Rescue, led by the Protestant Church in Germany, were able to purchase the vessel Sea-Watch 4.They try to save as many people as possible from death by drowning. Sea-Watch has so far been involved in the rescue of well over 35,000 people.
  • Julia Mourão Permoser (moderator) is Senior Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Innsbruck, Department of Political Science. For the last 15 years she has been researching various issues related to migration, human rights, and the governance of diversity. Currently, she is the principal investigator of a four-year long research project on sanctuary practices in Europe and the United States, financed by the Austrian Science Fund. Her work has been published in a range of international journals, including Global Networks, Political Studies Review, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Journal of European Public Policy, European Journal of Migration and Law, and Religion, State and Society.

June 2, 2021, 1:00–2:30 p.m. EDT: “Creating spaces of safety and empowerment during the asylum procedures”

  • Claudia Gomez is an Afro-Colombian artist, Occupational Therapist, refugee, and former resident of Romero House / Toronto. She is the founder of the Intercultural Collective Ethnicities in Cali-Colombia and in Toronto as well, in which she works as an activist through the arts (dance, theater, music, handcrafts), demanding human rights in Colombia in general and in the Afro-Colombian population in particular. She is part of the Truth Commission of Colombia Node Ontario which is looking for clarifying the truth about what happened and is happening in the frame of armed conflicts in Colombia (one of the largest and most cruel conflict around the world) and has been working with Colombian victims of armed conflicts for eight years.
  • Marisa Limón Garza is a native fronteriza with over 18 years of experience engaging multicultural communities through the lens of advocacy, education, strategic communications, and community involvement. She currently serves as deputy director of the Hope Border Institute, a social justice nonprofit organization working in El Paso TX, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and Las Cruces, New Mexico. Marisa holds a master’s in education and bachelor’s in English and Spanish literature from the University of Notre Dame and a certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University.
  • Elizabeth Ngari is the founder of Women in Exile, an initiative of refugee women founded in Brandenburg/Germany in 2002 by refugee women to fight for their rights. They decided to organize as a refugee women’s group because they have made the experience that refugee women are doubly discriminated against not only by racist laws and discriminatory refugee laws in general but also as women. ‘Women in Exile & Friends’ was formed in 2011 by Women in Exile & activists in solidarity without refugee background. Together we conduct the campaign titled “No Lager for Women! Abolish all Lagers!”
  • Ilka Vega (moderator) is a native transfronteriza from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. She holds a B.A. in Business and in Sustainability, Culture, and Social Justice from Southwestern University and is currently studying a MSc. in Innovation, Human Development, and Sustainability at the University of Geneva. She has worked for over 10 years with NGOs on issues of immigration, climate action, and racial justice. From 2018 to 2020, she worked at Hope Border Institute alongside Marisa, as Community Engagement and Administrative Specialist, and has served for four years as part of the Racial Justice Charter Support Group of the United Methodist Women.

June 14, 2021, 1:00–2:30 p.m. EDT: “Creating spaces of safety when facing deportation and building transformative alliances”

  • Ravi Ragbir is a community activist and the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition NY (NSC), a multi-faith immigrant-led organization that creates support systems for and empowers those navigating the immigration system. NSC’s grassroots programs are designed to shine a light on and disrupt the systems that criminalize immigrants’ existence. Core programs include the pro se immigration clinic, accompaniment, anti-detention, and community organizing and advocacy.
  • Adam Bahar was part of a group of refugees who occupied Oranienplatz square in Berlin from 2012 to 2014 and later became a “guest” in sanctuary in a Berlin church. He has been an activist advocating for refugee rights for years. Adam is currently working with Glokal e.V., an organization for political education from an anti-racist and post-colonial approach.
  • Rev. Anne Dunlap is the Faith Organizing Coordinator for Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and to work for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. Anne co-founded the Denver CO sanctuary coalition, and was brought into justice work through the sanctuary movement in the U.S. in the 1980s.
  • Noor Amr (moderator) is a doctoral student in Anthropology at Stanford University, and the coordinator of Concerning Violence: A Decolonial Collaborative Research Group. She holds a M.T.S. in Philosophy of Religion from Harvard Divinity School, where she was awarded the Dean’s Fellowship. Her dissertation research concerns church asylum in Germany, with attention to questions of sovereignty, secularism, kinship, and citizenship. Her work ethnographically examines how sanctuary practices work to reimagine the boundaries of political belonging through performative acts of relatedness.

June 18, 2021, 1:00–2:30 p.m. EDT: “Reflection and Action”

On June 18th, we invite all participants of our webinar series to join our discussions about the questions raised during the webinars. If you want to meet the other participants and stay connected, you are welcome to join us even if you couldn’t participate in all three webinars. We will further discuss the topics of our webinars but also open a space for exchange and networking. The meeting will be facilitated by Noor Amr, Julia Mourão Permoser, Ilka Vega, and Ulrike La Gro


The International Sanctuary Declaration Campaign: Ever since the Sanctuary Movements of the 1980s (connected with the names of the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona/USA and the protestant Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche in Berlin/Germany) there has been an exchange of people involved on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2016, the network that was build up since the 1980s issued the International Sanctuary Declaration Principles ( to globally unite efforts and can be used to guide grassroots and governmental response to the global escalation of displacement.

The Ecumenical Committee on Church Asylum/German Sanctuary Movement (Ökumenische BAG Asyl in der Kirche) is a network of associations of German protestant, catholic and free/evangelical church parishes ready to offer church asylum. Parishes offering asylum to refugees feel bound by their Christian faith to protect people from deportation from the territory, if there is reasonable doubt concerning a safe return. These parishes place themselves between refugees and the authorities in order to bring about a re-examination of cases and to prevent deportation.

Fellowship of Reconciliation USA (FOR-USA) works to organize, train, and grow a diverse movement that welcomes all people of conscience to end structures of violence and war, and create peace through the transformative power of nonviolence. As the oldest interfaith peace and justice organization in North America, with more than 80 grassroots affiliates, FOR-USA has been an active national branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation’s (IFOR) global peace network since 1915. We address crisis-level civil and human rights issues through nonviolent activism, advocacy, education, and the empowering of individuals and local communities at the grassroots level.

We thank Rosa Luxemburg Foundation for their generous support.



Fellowship of Reconciliation USA

FOR-USA organizes, trains, and grows a diverse movement that aims to end structures of violence and war, and create peace through nonviolence.