Session I: What is Community Protection?

Because Trump’s regime does not even pretend to represent us we must organize to resist, defend ourselves and transform our communities: county by county, town by town, city by city. It is imperative that we organize where we live, work, party and pray in order to attract more people, build leadership, and make change in an arena that is within reach right now.

— Mijente, Community Defense Zone Starter Guide

This session will introduce you to the basic concept of community protection, which is being implemented in many places through policies known as “expanded sanctuary.” In this session, you’ll explore the meaning of expanded sanctuary, why it is needed, and how it relates to older definitions of sanctuary.

This session includes multiple readings. In order to save time, larger groups can divide into pairs who each complete one of the readings and report back key take-aways to the larger group.

Tech Needs

Access to computers and internet or print-outs of online articles. Projector hook-up to play video.


“Sanctuary” traditionally meant a form of direct action where someone at risk of deportation protects themselves or their family by taking refuge in a church (or other “sensitive location.”) A “sanctuary city” typically referred to a local government that does not actively share information or detain people for federal immigration enforcement. Today, however, many activists are saying that these definitions of sanctuary need to expand. Start the session with this short video outlining this concept of “expanding sanctuary.” The other readings for the session will take you on a deeper dive. (2 min)


  • UUSC, Expanded Sanctuary Blog Series

Check out parts one and two of UUSC’s three-part blog series on expanded sanctuary (see here and here). (10 min)


Find out more about expanded sanctuary in this report, which first introduced the concept and terminology of expanded sanctuary. (8 min.)

For now, you only need to read pp. 1-5 of this report. The group will look at the rest together in the next activity.


Turning back to the Mijente “What Makes a City a Sanctuary Now?” report, ask each member of your group to select at least one of the eight issues that the authors identify in the “Policy Priorities” section (pp. 6-12). Read the section on your issue and then report back to the group about what you learned. As you share, try to keep the following goals in mind:

  • Paraphrase as clearly as you can the position that the report adopts.
  • Describe the feelings that came up for you when reading the policy proposals in your section. What about these proposals felt like a familiar idea? What was a new idea to you? What was surprising? In what ways, if any, do you think your personal identity and background influenced your feelings?

(20 min.)

Questions for Discussion and Reflection:
  • What experiences did you have with sanctuary at the congregational or policy level – if any – prior to working through this session?
  • Has your concept of sanctuary changed as a result of these readings? In what way?
  • Does the concept of “expanded sanctuary” make sense to you? Which aspects of it, if any, are still unclear?
  • Does your city, state, or town, currently refer to itself as a “sanctuary,” “welcoming city,” etc.? If so, what would it look like to move toward an expanded definition of “sanctuary” where you are?
  • What steps could you take personally or as a group to expand sanctuary?

(20 min.)

Photo thanks to Rev. Amy Freedman, used with permission.

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