Sanctuary: Supporting Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers

Read a Letter to the Latinx Community from over 500 Jewish Leaders, including CBST clergy

Report on our Pro Se Clinic's one-year anniversary

Why Sanctuary?

As a community that is LGBTQ and Jewish, we know the dangers of demonization, and we embrace resistance and love as our response. We cannot be silent.

The current administration has attacked immigrants and refugees through words and action, scapegoating immigrants and restricting their rights.

However, a new sanctuary movement - inspired by religious texts and the faith-based organizing of the 1980s in response to Central Americans fleeing violence and war - has grown in NYC and around the country to challenge these abuses.

What is Sanctuary? According to T’ruah, Sanctuary is “the movement and the work of defending immigrants and standing up for their rights.” CBST is a proud member of the New Sanctuary Coalition and actively engaged in Sanctuary work.

Click here to let us know who you are and how you'd like to get involved!

What Are We Doing?

CBST Immigration Clinic

Since May 2019, CBST has held a weekly immigration legal clinic for asylum seekers in coalition with New Sanctuary Coalition, Seeking Asylum Finding Empowerment (SAFE), and RUSA. At clinic, attorneys and non-attorneys work with asylum seekers to prepare asylum applications, supporting documentation, and other government forms.

If you would like to volunteer at the clinic on Wednesday evenings from 6:00-8:30PM contact sanctuary@cbst.org. Be sure to check our calendar for upcoming Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses for attorneys and trainings for non-attorneys!

CBST Bail Fund

One of the most immediate and effective ways to reunite immigrants in detention with their families is by paying their bail. Bail is submitted on behalf of a detainee, who is then released to pursue their legal case while living in their community instead of behind bars. Contribute to the new CBST Bail Bond Fund, with all proceeds supporting New Sanctuary Coalition’s “Life Bond Fund” which has already helped free 25 immigrants from detention. Please make your fully tax deductible contribution by check (with memo: CBST Bail Bond Fund) or give online HERE.

Questions?  Contact sanctuary@cbst.org.


The New Sanctuary Coalition (NSC) accompaniment program recruits and trains volunteers to accompany people facing deportation to their immigration hearings and ICE check-ins. This provides moral support to the person facing deportation and enables volunteers to hold immigration authorities accountable. Standing in solidarity with migrants facing deportation also demonstrates to immigration judges, ICE officers, and government attorneys that there is a community mobilized against their deportation.

CBST members regularly participate in accompaniments. To become involved, join us at our next accompaniment training on Thursday August 22nd from 10:30AM-12:30PM.

Rapid Response Team

Join our rapid response team to find out about weekly actions, protests, and other ways to become involved in ad hoc Sanctuary work at CBST!

Jericho Walk

Every Thursday at 11:00AM at 26 Federal Plaza (ICE headquarters in NYC) New Sanctuary Coalition holds a powerful demonstration, inspired by the biblical story of Jericho. We symbolically walk around the building, bringing humanity to an unjust system through our presence.

Please click here and sign up to get involved and join us in this important work.

Our Partners

RUSA LGBT provides informational support to asylum seekers and organizes social events to increase acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ people within the Russian-speaking public. We fight for social justice, human and civil rights for LGBTQ people in America and in the Former Soviet Union. RUSA LGBT advocates for justice for asylum seekers and for equality worldwide!

The New Sanctuary Coalition (NSC) springs from New York’s faith-based and social justice communities and forms a unique family of citizens and immigrants, bound by a love of humanity and mutual respect. Operating for a decade on less-than-shoestring budgets, NSC has done enormous good for our community. NSC operates a pro se legal clinic and accompaniment program, and hosts weekly community meetings, Jericho Walk protests, and other events. CBST serves on the board of directors of NSC.

The Synagogue Coalition and Downtown Jewish Life is a group of synagogues and Jewish non-profits coordinating and amplifying efforts to engage more deeply in this work. The group collaborates with organizations like HIAS and T’ruah to advocate for and assist refugee and immigrant families. By partnering with them we are creating a louder voice for justice and equality on these crucial issues.

Faith in New York is a significant multi faith organization that advocates for a number of different issues, including supporting immigrants. We are also partnering with them to further our sanctuary work and deepen our interfaith relationships.

What has the Sanctuary Team been doing so far?

  • On Friday, October 6th, Father Juan Carlos Ruiz, one of the founders of the New Sanctuary Movement, was our guest speaker for Shabbat services. (click to watch here, starting just after the 1 hour mark)
  • On Saturday, October 14th, we joined RUSA for Voices4Chechnya, a rally at Stonewall followed by a march to Trump Tower. Listen to Rabbi Kleinbaum speaking at the rally by clicking here. 
  • On Wednesday, October 18th, CBST joined HIAS, Bend the Arc, the Muslim Community Network, and other partners in Washington, D.C. for the #NoMuslimBanEver March.
  • On Thursday, October 19th, more than 80 people attended an accompaniment training by the New Sanctuary Movement at CBST. 
  • In November, we threw a virtual baby shower for Jeimy, an asylum seeker who New Sanctuary has been supporting.
  • On Monday, December 11th, more than 30 people attended our second accompaniment training by the New Sanctuary Movement at CBST.
  • On Wednesday, December 13th, CBST hosted the New Sanctuary Coalition's Gala. Click here to see photos!
  • In December, we collected food for an asylum seeker who is dependent on food pantries and has limited mobility, so that he and his family could eat.
  • On January 5th, we joined a vigil to support a Haitian immigrant in detention and at risk of deportation.
  • On Monday January 8th, CBST hosted an immigration law training with the Sanctuary team for lawyers and non-lawyers.
  • On Thursday January 11th, a CBST group joined a vigil to accompany Ravi Ragbir, Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, to his ICE check-in.
  • On Wednesday January 17th, Rabbi Kleinbaum, Sabrina Farber, Harold Levine, Allison Drew Klein, and Tyler Watkins participated in an historic act of non-violent civil disobedience led by Bend the Arc and United We Dream to show our support for young immigrants who will be at risk of deportation if their status is revoked. Read more by clicking here.
  • Between January 11th - 29th, the CBST community made phone calls and wrote postcards to help bring our friend and colleague Ravi Ragbir home from detention. Read the judge's ruling by clicking here. Ravi, the Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, is still at risk of deportation, but he is home with his family for now.
  • On Sunday February 11th, 40 CBST members learned about the history and theory of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience with Rabbi Kleinbaum and trainers Jamie Bauer and Alexis Danzig. If you missed the training, you can still get a taste of the learning by reading the training packet here, and you can see photos from the day here.


To learn more about the Jewish response to sanctuary, click here to read the T’ruah guide for synagogues interested in doing this important work.

To learn more about the New Sanctuary Coalition and their Pro Se clinic work, click here.

Click here to read an article about presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke visiting our weekly clinic in September 2019.