Biography / Administrative History
Scope and Content of Collection
Other Finding Aids
Title: National Sanctuary Defense Fund records
Collection number: GTU 98-9-04
National Sanctuary Defense Fund
8.5 linear feet (9 boxes, 2 folios)
The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
Abstract: The National Sanctuary Defense Fund was established in 1984 to raise funds for the legal defense of sanctuary workers and
refugees from Central America. Immigrants from El Salvador and Guatemala in particular were arrested and indicted during the
1980s for violating federal immigration laws. Other immigrant groups were also included. Work with Haitian refugees in the
1990s included a visit by Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Berkeley, CA in 1994.Board members included Gustav Schultz and Eileen
Purcell. Administrators included Thomas Ambrogi, Penny Deleray, and Andrea Lampros.
Physical location: 1/I/2 - 1/I/5
Languages represented in the collection:
Selected digitized images from this collection: Numbers 14-19.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union
as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
National Sanctuary Defense Fund records, GTU 98-9-04. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.
The NSDF Collection materials were brought to the GTU Archives in one batch by NSDF Board members. The materials had been
stored in boxes at the closing of the last NSDF office.
Biography / Administrative History
Growing political and military ferment in Central America in the 1970s caused people to flee their countries, particularly
El Salvador and Guatemala. U.S. churches of all denominations became acutely aware of the situation after the assassination
of El Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Romero in March 1980. Individual congregations began to assist Central American refugees
escaping the oppression and violence by seeking asylum in the U.S.
The U.S. government, due to its policies in Central America and concerning asylum, did not recognize El Salvadorans or Guatemalans
as qualifying for refugee status, deporting those who were caught. The churches understanding of Sanctuary and aiding the
oppressed conflicted with U.S. law. By 1984, not only Central Americans were being detained, U.S. citizens who aided them
were being arrested and indicted on various charges.
Those working in the Sanctuary Movement became aware of the need to support their fellow workers who were arrested. An Interim
Committee met in Chicago in August 1984 to form a support fund and a Board to maintain it. The purpose of what they called
the National Public Sanctuary Defense Fund was "to provide resources, financial and human, to facilitate the strengthening
of a domestic movement working in solidarity with Central American peoples to stop U.S. economic and military support for
repressive regimes in Central America" (Report, 8/12/84, Box 1 File Folder 4).
An Interim Board then met in Tucson, Arizona, in September 1984. Members represented a wide range of Sanctuary groups throughout
the U.S. Gus Schultz, pastor of the University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley, CA, was appointed Chair. The discussion centered
on the understanding that "Sanctuary was beginning to be defined by court cases and attorneys rather than by Sanctuary churches"
(Minutes, 9/21/84, Box 1 File Folder 4). The American Friends Service Committee was asked to be the fiscal agent for the
fund, but they agreed to be temporary only until a permanent agent could be found. The proposal which came out of the meeting
declared: "The purpose of the National Public Sanctuary Defense Fund is to solicit, receive, and allocate Funds" according
to criteria that defendants should be either sanctuary workers or refugees, cases will have "the greatest potentiality for
furthering opposition to unjust immigration policies regarding Central American refugees," and defendants be willing to have
the case used publicly to strengthen the Sanctuary Movement (Proposal, undated, Box 1 File Folder 4).
Thomas (Tom) Ambrogi was appointed the fund Administrator (also referred to as Coordinator) in March 1985. That same year
the Franciscan Friars of California agreed to be the fund's fiscal agent. Funds began to be raised and allocated. Throughout
NSDF's existence, funds were raised through direct mailings, from church bodies, denominations, and foundations, and through
events such as art shows and concerts. Performers for the concerts included Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, and Bonnie Raitt.
Application guidelines were developed and allocations made throughout the years to sanctuary groups across the U.S.
Penny Deleray assumed the duties of Coordinator in mid-1986. She was followed in this position by Board member Eileen Purcell
in 1991. Purcell, who continued as a Board member, was replaced by Andrea Lampros in 1992. Tessa Rouverol became Interim
Director in November 1993 while Lampros continued on the staff. The last Director listed is Laura Castellanos del Valle beginning
January 1996. Gus Schultz continued through the years as Board member, later as President.
By 1990, it was clear that the need for a legal defense fund in the Sanctuary Movement was not so pressing. There were fewer
arrests and no trials as political and military policies and situations changed both in the U.S. and Central America. It
became increasingly difficult to raise funds. In December 1990, NSDF became a non-profit corporation. When tax exempt 501(c)(3)
status was received in 1993, they ended the fiscal relationship with the Franciscan Friars with great thanks and gratitude.
NSDF began to look at new directions, redefining the mission, and diversifying the allocations. The mission began to shift
toward human rights and immigration issues, particularly Guatemalan and, beginning 1993, Haitian.
The projects which grew from the mission shift included co-sponsorship with the Graduate Theological Union and the University
of San Francisco of Jean Bertrand Aristide's visit to Berkeley, 1994; political organizing around the California ballot Proposition
187 on immigration, 1994; planning and participating in the interfaith human rights events around the 50th anniversary of
signing the U.N. charter, 1995; as well as producing educational materials, participating in conferences, and monitoring state
and national legislation.
Continued changes in the political climate and situations brought more changes to NSDF. The Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant
Rights, which began as a program of NSDF in 1995, by 1997 incorporated as a separate organization. In 1999, the National
Sanctuary Defense Fund corporation name was changed to the Monsignor Romero Foundation to continue work in the spirit of the
Scope and Content of Collection
The NSDF Collection contains the records of the organization from its inception in 1984 to its changed focus in 1996. The
materials were boxed from the last NSDF office and had never been disassembled or dislocated. The 8.5 linear feet in this
collection have been taken from the original gift of 20 feet. The discarded 11.25 feet were duplicate materials, cancelled
checks, bills, and receipts. Of the bills and receipts, samplings were kept to show the nature of the organizations' work.
The arrangement of the records and series reflects the order in which the Collection was received.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Sanctuary movement--United States.
Refugees, political--Legal status, laws, etc.--Cases.
Church and social problems--Central America--History--20th century.
Christianity and justice--United States.
Index Terms Related to this Collection
Schultz, Gustav H., 1935-
Ambrogi, Thomas E.
Other Finding Aids
The Gustav Schultz Sanctuary Collection, 1971–1996, GTU 90-5-01, contains documentation on the Sanctuary Movement from its
beginning, providing sanctuary for military personnel during the Vietnam War, through the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s,
to human rights issues in Korea.
The Oral History of the Sanctuary Movement, 1971-2007, GTU 2009-3-02, contains interviews of leaders in the NSDF and the
movement in general. Transcripts from this collection are
For further information on the visit of Jean Bertrand Aristide in 1994, see the GTU Office of the President, Glenn R. Bucher
Collection, GTU 97-1-1, Box 6, File Folders 28-29. For photographs of the visit, see the GTU Photograph Collection, GTU 97-9-1,
Box 2 File Folders 44-59.