RELIGION

Immigrants find sanctuary in growing Austin church network

  • In this Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 photo, Hilda Ramirez, an immigrant living illegally in the U.S, sits in the sanctuary at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church as she waits to talk to a reporter, Wednesday, in Austin, Texas. Ramirez, from Guatemala, and her son have taken refuge at the church for more than a year. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

    In this Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 photo, Hilda Ramirez, an immigrant living illegally in the U.S, sits in the sanctuary at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church as she waits to talk to a reporter, Wednesday, in Austin, Texas. Ramirez, from Guatemala, and her son have taken refuge at the church for more than a year. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 photo, Ivan Ramirez, an immigrant from Guatemala plays outside St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, in Austin, Texas, where he and his mother, Hilda, have taken refuge for more than a year.  There is growing fear in the city’s immigrant community as President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and executive orders go into effect. And as more than 50 Austin area residents were detained in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation raids last month, a growing number of churches in the Austin Sanctuary Network are volunteering to offer physical sanctuary or support to the churches that do. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

    In this Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 photo, Ivan Ramirez, an immigrant from Guatemala plays outside St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, in Austin, Texas, where he and his mother, Hilda, have taken refuge for more than a year. There is growing fear in the city’s immigrant community as President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and executive orders go into effect. And as more than 50 Austin area residents were detained in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation raids last month, a growing number of churches in the Austin Sanctuary Network are volunteering to offer physical sanctuary or support to the churches that do. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 photo, Hilda Ramirez, an immigrant living illegally in the U.S, walks through the halls at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, in Austin, Texas. Ramirez, from Guatemala, and her son have taken refuge at the church for more than a year. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

    In this Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 photo, Hilda Ramirez, an immigrant living illegally in the U.S, walks through the halls at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, in Austin, Texas. Ramirez, from Guatemala, and her son have taken refuge at the church for more than a year. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)  (The Associated Press)

The Austin Sanctuary Network of churches offering shelter to immigrants in the liberal Texas city is growing rapidly since President Donald Trump was elected.

More churches are exploring opening their doors to immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally and seeking sanctuary from deportation by moving into the churches. Two Austin churches have already offered sanctuary. Others in the network of more than two dozen are preparing to house immigrants or offer support for churches that open their doors.

Nationwide more than 800 churches and religious organizations are involved in the loosely organized sanctuary movement.

Volunteers say increase in churches interested in offering sanctuary has allowed them to offer more training including helping immigrants to prepare deportation defense packets.