A Report from a Visit to the Border

Saint Mark’s Sanctuary volunteers Dee Cappelletti, Melinda Kmitta, George Moore, and Maris Olsen, along with Canon Nancy Ross, traveled to McAllen and Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico, in January 2020. There they joined Episcopalians from around the country witnessing the realities of the dire situation for migrants and refugees at our southern border. They met refugees and asylees, some 2,000 strong, who are camped in a squalid tent city, most waiting months for a chance for an asylum hearing. At a special Sunday Forum at Saint Mark's on February 9, they reported on what they saw... and what we can do.

Jaime's Story in his own words

Jaime Rubio Sulficio, father, husband, and community leader, is living in Sanctuary at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral while he seeks a legal remedy that would allow for a stay of deportation to Mexico and keep his family together. He shared his reflections on life in Sanctuary with the community on October 2, 2019.

Sanctuary Press Conference, March 29, 2019

On March 29, 2019, Saint Mark's Cathedral made the announcement that it is welcoming an immigrant facing deportation into Sanctuary on the Cathedral grounds. A pdf of the press release may be downloaded here. The full text may be read below.

Press Release
March 29, 2019
Contact:  Michael Ramos, 206-465-6263

Father Seeks Sanctuary at Seattle Cathedral:

Beloved Business Owner and Dance Instructor
Seeks Legal Remedy to Keep Family Together


Seattle, WA, March 29, 2019: Jaime Rubio Sulficio, father, husband, and community leader, has been received into Sanctuary at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle. He has a United States citizen son and is married to a U.S. citizen. He seeks a legal remedy that would allow for a stay of deportation to Mexico and allow for the reuniting of his family. He sees the prospect of permanent separation as immoral, arbitrary, and unjust, causing long-term hardship to his wife who faces health challenges and inflicting emotional trauma for his son, a tender six years of age. Going into Sanctuary was not an easy choice. “It’s difficult to be apart from my family. I can’t imagine not being able to see my son and wife. I will stay in Sanctuary while we find a legal remedy for my situation,” states Rubio Sulficio.

The Dean of Saint Mark’s Cathedral, The Very Rev. Steven Thomason shares the Cathedral’s decision to accept Jaime into Sanctuary: “From our faith teachings, we are instructed to care for our neighbors as ourselves and to offer hospitality and kindness to people in need. Such as is the case for Jaime. We will stand with Jaime and his family until he is granted the opportunity to return home and restart his construction business.”

Michael Ramos of the Church Council of Greater Seattle noted, “Local faith communities applaud Saint Mark’s Cathedral for providing Sanctuary to Mr. Rubio Sulficio. His courageous step to stop the process of being torn from his family sheds light on the unjust practice of deporting hundreds of thousands of people annually with deep roots in the U.S. and who pose no threat to society. Sanctuary gives a human face to these hard-working, socially-contributing and family-oriented immigrants who belong here.”

In welcoming Mr. Rubio Sulficio into Sanctuary and providing support for his family, Saint Mark’s recognizes them as part of the congregation’s family. They are children of God, deserving of dignity and respect, to be honored for preserving the integrity of their family as a life-affirming, profoundly sacred act. The Church Council of Greater Seattle extends the solidarity of its “For Such a Time as This” network congregations, 150-strong. The Church Council recognizes the loving hospitality of this cathedral, in partnership with justice-seeking organizations, toward protecting family unity and proclaiming in word and deed that what is required of us is “to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

The tradition of Sanctuary has deep biblical and historical roots as places of welcome, hospitality, and moral protection in sacred space for people who fear harm or violence towards them. There are nearly 50 immigrants at risk of deportation who have taken Sanctuary in congregations in the United States since 2016.

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral strives to be: a house of prayer for all people, where we worship God and proclaim the reconciling Gospel of Jesus Christ; a loving, welcoming, inclusive community that nurtures faith, encourages service, and integrates social and environmental justice into our lives; a sacred gathering place for the Diocese of Olympia and the broader community in times of crisis, sorrow, and celebration.
Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral is located at 1245 10th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102.

For email inquires about Sanctuary, contact Michael Ramos of the Church Council of Greater Seattle at 206-465-6263.

For media inquiries about Saint Mark’s Cathedral, contact Gregory Bloch at 206.323.0300 x 259.

Three stories from The Rubric about Sanctuary at Saint Mark's

(click on the images to enlarge)

Why Sanctuary at Saint Mark's?

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  –John 13:34

In Christ’s church, all are welcome, but it’s not just in church – it is in our common life. Saint Mark’s stands in solidarity with all our neighbors, especially immigrants who are living in fear in these fraught times. Sanctuary at Saint Mark’s Cathedral is an outgrowth of our 2016 Statement of Commitment and Action, our response to the climate of increasing division and violence in our nation. Fundamental in the life of a Christian community, we take a stand to “welcome the stranger, as our Scriptures instruct.” In living into that call as a Sanctuary Hub, we are in relationship with Casa Latina, a leading immigrant worker rights organization in Seattle, with our volunteers trained and serving as witnesses and legal observers, accompaniers, interpreters, and peacemakers, and with Saint Mark’s Safe Space a gathering place for building relationship and a harbor in times of trouble. We stand as Sanctuary because we are all God’s beloved. You are welcome to join us. If you have questions about this ministry or are interested in becoming involved, please e-mail 

Community Resources:

Casa Latina is an immigrant workers rights organization in Seattle that empowers low-wage Latino immigrants to move from economic insecurity to economic prosperity and to lift their voices to take action around public policy issues that affect them.

The Church Council of Greater Seattle is an ecumenical nonprofit focusing on organizing faith communities around various social justice issues. One of their focus areas is immigrant and refugee accompaniment. Visit their website for details on their work, resources, and contact information.

The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network is a Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights organizations and individuals that strive to protect, serve and strengthen support capacity and resources to build power and a united voice in Washington.

OneAmerica is the largest immigrant and refugee advocacy organization in Washington State, organizing with and advocating for diverse communities including Latinx, African, and Asian. Initially named Hate Free Zone, OneAmerica was founded immediately after September 11, 2001 to address the backlash, hate crimes, and discrimination against immigrant communities of color, primarily Muslims, Arab Americans, East Africans, and South Asians.

The City of Seattle's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs has a wonderful list of resources and programs on their website. One of their programs includes the Immigrant Legal Defense Network.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks about Immigration Reform at Saint Mark’s

Sanctuary Movement Launch Event, May 1, 2017