As religious denominations and faith-based organizations committed to the wellbeing of all, we write to express our strong opposition to your executive orders on immigration enforcement and border security, their implementation memos, and current enforcement actions impacting our communities.
These actions are inhumane and unjust, needlessly tear apart families and communities, and aggravate an already broken immigration system. As people of faith we stand in solidarity with those targeted, many of whom are our family members, our neighbors, our congregation members, our teachers, and our friends. In the current climate of fear and uncertainty, faith communities have reaffirmed our commitment to our immigrant neighbors, including more than 800 congregations that have pledged support for the Sanctuary Movement and more than 1,000 faith leaders who have gone on record opposing policies that force local police to serve as immigration agents.
Contrary to claims that enforcement actions only target individuals who have committed serious crimes, those who have been apprehended include a mother in Arizona, a Methodist lay leader in Kansas, a domestic violence survivor in Texas, and a woman with a brain tumor seeking asylum. It is clear that your administration has broadened the definition of “criminal” to include minor traffic offenses and individuals who have returned to the United States after being deported. Also, past mistakes should not tear away a father or mother from their children, or a congregant, neighbor or volunteer from their community. We all have made mistakes and we all have the capacity to take responsibility for our actions, learn from those mistakes, and live anew. We believe in redemption and the power of grace.
We also strongly condemn enforcement actions that have violated Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s own policy to not conduct enforcement actions at or near “sensitive locations” such as schools, hospitals and houses of worship, including apprehensions of individuals exiting a hypothermia shelter at Rising Hope Mission Church in Alexandria, VA.
Provisions in the executive orders to deny asylum seekers the ability to have their cases heard before an immigration judge, to detain and deport children and families, and to punish parents for helping their children flee violence are contrary to who we are as a nation and will put lives in jeopardy. Attempts to make vulnerable migrants fear raids, detention, and deportation more than the gangs and traffickers in their home countries are immoral and ineffective. Instead of deporting vulnerable people in need of protection, your Administration should make certain that all children can access legal orientation and post-release programs to ensure their safety while awaiting a court date.
We urge you to immediately rescind these executive orders, end these reckless enforcement actions and stop the damage that they are inflicting on our immigrant brothers and sisters. The protection of people from harm and the unity of families are divine responsibilities that must not be cast aside. Walling off America, raiding communities, and failing to protect those in need are contrary to the values of family unity, fairness, and equality that we strive to achieve as a nation.