Refuge and Sanctuary

Just minutes after dawn yesterday, while most of Nashville slept, ICE agents blocked a man and his young son in the driveway of their home in Hermitage.

The flashing lights on the ICE vehicle aroused neighbors, who quickly surmised what was happening. Soon the city was aroused to the proceedings in the peaceful hamlet with the famous name on the far east side of the county.

And soon after this, neighbors were literally linking arms with neighbors, Metro police officers and at least two Metro Council members, CM Fabian Bedne and CM Bob Mendes, arrived on the scene. (The police had been instructed to observe but not engage.) Immigration advocates also arrived.

Four hours later, shielded behind a human chain, the man and boy dashed inside their home and shut the door. The frustrated ICE agents, who had brought no warrant with them, gave up and departed the scene.

“We stuck together like neighbors are supposed to do,” one neighbor told a reporter. At this address, the Trump administration’s announced policy of ICE raids to capture undocumented residents ended in failure at the hands of documented American citizens. No doubt, all this that happened down in Nashville 24 hours ago is being discussed at the White House today.

Hermitage, the word, literally means the dwelling of a hermit living in isolation. But today in Nashville the word has a broader and opposite meaning: Neighbors showing defiant solidarity in the face of official lawlessness.

This morning the rest of us are left to ponder the meaning of sanctuary and refuge, due process of law, and the danger to everybody when federal agents bypass any judge and write their own warrants to arrest and search and seize.