Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
National Sanctuary Defense Fund Records
GTU 98-9-04  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (98.70 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Other Finding Aids

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: National Sanctuary Defense Fund records
    Dates: 1984-1996
    Collection number: GTU 98-9-04
    Creator: National Sanctuary Defense Fund
    Collection Size: 8.5 linear feet (9 boxes, 2 folios) 6 images/objects
    Repository: The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
    Berkeley, CA 94709
    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: Languages represented in the collection: English Spanish


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    National Sanctuary Defense Fund records, GTU 98-9-04. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.

    Acquisition Information

    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 Sanctuary Movement.

    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.

    Indexing Terms

    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--Guatemala.
    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-
    Purcell, Eileen.
    Ambrogi, Thomas E.
    Deleray, Penny.
    Lampros, Andrea.
    Aristide, Jean-Bertrand.

    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 online .
    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.