Per 8 US Code 1324: Harboring illegal aliens in a church (or anywhere else), is a felony. Penalties include fines and up to 5 years in prison.
This includes both those who directly aid or abet the commission of the crime and those who engage in any conspiracy to commit the crime.
In the past, priests, nuns, and lay members of churches have been tried and convicted of violating Title 8. The largest such conviction happened in 1985 with 16 being convicted of 71 counts of criminal conspiracy and aiding and abetting "illegal aliens to enter the United States by shielding, harboring and transporting them".
Churches should not be abused as harbors for illegal aliens. Let's hope churches make the right choice to abide by the law and set a positive example of lawfulness to their congregations.
Code Switch's Adrian Florido has been covering the new sanctuary movement for us. For this episode, he spoke to key players to understand why hundreds of churches are ready to start a public fight with the current administration to prevent deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.