The practice of sanctuary in ancient Israel was limited to offenders who had accidentally or unintentionally killed someone, thereby providing a place where their case could be heard: Exo. 21:12-14; Num. 35:11-15, 22-29; Josh. 20:1-6,9. Sanctuary was never intended as a place to avoid the law, but to allow the law to take its proper course rather than retaliation when it was not called for. While both Israelite citizens and aliens qualified for sanctuary (cf. Num. 35:15, Josh. 20:9), being an illegal alien was not a criterion for such protection. Thus American cities and churches who offer sanctuary for illegal immigrants cannot claim to be following the practice described in the Bible.
- James K. Hoffman, The Immigration Crisis 80-84 (2009).