Zero-Tolerance for the “Zero-Tolerance” Immigration Policy

President Donald Trump's administration has enacted an immoral immigration policy of separating parents and children at the U.S. border, and routinely denying asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. Equally egregious, Attorney General Jeff Sessions grotesquely cited words from Paul’s letter to the Romans (chapter 13) as justification for this behavior, stating we are to “obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.” Yoni Appelbaum, historian and editor at The Atlantic, and John Fea, professor from Pennsylvania's Messiah College, vividly remind us that this was the same argument defenders of slavery used to keep African Americans in bondage.   

As a result of this new “zero-tolerance” policy, our government is criminally prosecuting everyone who illegally crosses the border, including migrants fleeing persecution and seeking asylum.

In the first two weeks of this policy, 638 parents were forcibly separated from their children. In many cases, children were taken to separate detention facilities, often hundreds of miles away, and parents were not told where their children were.

By tearing apart families, our government traumatizes children of God. Children arriving at the border with their families, many fleeing violence in their native countries, have already experienced significant trauma. The least we can do is to refrain from adding to this trauma by ripping these children away from their families. Particularly as we enter into the Father’s Day weekend, consider how many children will be parentless because of this policy.

Jesus himself had to become a refugee as his parents were forced to abandon their homeland in order to preserve his life. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,” Jesus said, ‘you did for me.” We have a responsibility to welcome the immigrant and the stranger, and to protect vulnerable families fleeing violence from our government’s inhumane treatment. Our ancient Hebrew texts further remind us that God “loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

Community Renewal Society declares this behavior immoral and unjust, and we further state that gerrymandering Biblical Scriptures into a public policy to support an unjust law is appalling and abhorrent. We call for the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to immediately end the practice of separating minor children from their families, and for minor children who already have been taken from their parents to be quickly reunited with them.

We remind those in power that cruely tearing families apart violates moral responsibility to welcome and love our neighbors in need. We remind them that the sanctity of the family and safety of our children must be priority. Finally, we call for the U.S. not to close off, but keep open all avenues to asylum for immigrants and refugees fleeing danger.

The time is now for Congress to pass a just and equitable immigration system, and for all leaders in our country to remember that, “you yourselves were foreigners” in America, too.

 

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