Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Ryan P. Burge


Immigration is a controversial and complex issue. The United States has a history of welcoming millions of immigrants and refugees. Recent political rhetoric surrounding immigration has been negative and associated with danger and terrorism. Religious leaders along with their congregations have a history of advocating on behalf of the marginalized as well as combating against a broken immigration system that leaves eleven million people undocumented. This research paper uses a case study to explore the Sanctuary movement, a religious and political campaign that provided shelter for thousands of Central American refugees fleeing war. Interviews with seven religious leaders in Arizona and Michigan were conducted in order to reveal what strategies are being used to convince churchgoers to welcome non-citizens. This research concludes that religious leaders are using a mixture of theological, political, and economic arguments to convince their audiences to welcome the stranger.