Thursday, July 19, 2018

Religious Leaders Condemn Family Separation

July 19, 2018
Dear Members of Congress,

As 500 faith leaders and 111 faith-based organizations across traditions, we write to express our unequivocal opposition to the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separates families and detains and prosecutes parents. We also stand against any proposal that would expand immigration detention, as family incarceration is not a solution to family separation. We are committed to humane immigration policies that reflect the values and expression of our faith to welcome the stranger and treat all human beings with dignity and respect. Instead of continuing unnecessary and immoral detention, deportation, and border militarization policies, we must carry on our nation’s proud history of hospitality and moral leadership.
As people of faith, our concern stems from shared values rooted in our sacred texts that remind us to love our neighbor and welcome the sojourner among us. As Leviticus 19:34 (CE) reminds us: “Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.”
In many faith traditions, family is the fundamental unit in society through which individuals are able to grow and experience the love of God. Many of our faith traditions also call on us to safeguard the well-being of children in particular. Tearing children away from their parents, absent a documented child protection concern, is unconscionable. Equally troubling is the inhumane and cruel expansion of family incarceration that is plagued with systemic abuse and life-threatening inadequate access to health and medical care, especially for children, pregnant or nursing mothers, and others with serious medical conditions.

To threaten families who are fleeing harm and legally seeking protection at our borders with family separation, incarceration, and prosecution is immoral and unjust. Similar policies of detaining asylum-seeking families to deter their migration have already been found by a U.S. court to violate U.S. law.U.S. policies of deterrence have also been found to have no impact on vulnerable populations fleeing to the U.S. from Central America.We remind you that our efforts to end family detention have never been partisan. Indeed, our faith values led faith leaders to speak out against family detentionconsistently when it was used before. Therefore, we encourage the administration to respect the principles of family unity and liberty in its immigration and border enforcement policies. Families should not be separated nor needlessly locked up in costly and inhumane family or adult detention facilities. The administration has long had alternatives available to both practices, including to mitigate flight risk and support compliance with immigration requirements and court proceedings.3
We are heartened by the national outcry​ against family separation​ happening at ports of entry​ andbetween ports of entry, including of asylum seekersAs Congress takes action to end family separation, it is critical that Congress rejects proposals that would expand family incarceration, such as S.3093 in the Senate that would see children detained indefinitely with their parents. The Flores​ Settlement agreement
See R.I.L.R. v Johnson. Information available at:​ ​ to recent statistical analysis of the 178,825 cases of unaccompanied migrant children who fled to the United States from Northern Triangle countries during the years of 2011 through 2016, violence in municipalities within the Northern Triangle countries was the single strongest causal factor in a child’s migration over any other factor, including U.S. policy or economic factors. Finding further that for every 10 additional homicides in a region, 6 more additional children will migrate. See Violence, Development, and Migration Waves: Evidence from Central American Child Migrant Apprehensions, CGD Working Paper 459. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development, available at: Immigration Lawyers Association, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, National Immigrant Justice Center, and Women’s Refugee Commission. The Real Alternatives to Family Detention. also, Aria Bendix, “ICE Shuts Down Program for Asylum-Seekers,” (The Atlantic June 9, 2017), available at:
mandates that children are not kept in unlicensed detention or restrictive settings for more than 20 days.This is an important standard​ and should be upheld; undermining protections for children is not a solution. We oppose using the plight of children and families as leverage to end child welfare protections or expand family detention.
As we recognize that legislation is not needed​ to end family separation, we seek an end to family separations, the reuniting of families, and an end to the "zero tolerance" policy by pressuring the administration and devoting resources to helping parents reunite with their children. Judicial and prosecutorial discretion is the underpinning of a fair justice system. The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health & Human Services (HHS) must be instructed to act immediately to reunite the more than 2,000 families already separated. We also seek an expansion of access to counsel for children and their parents to ensure they have the opportunity to present their asylum claims and seek relief from persecution and life-threatening violence.
Family incarceration is not a solution to family separation. To the extent the Senate is considering alternatives to family detention, we urge Congress and the administration to​ ​utilize non-restrictive, community-based alternatives to detention (ATDs)​ ​as the most appropriate response for families, children, and asylum seekers. Incarcerating families and young children in detention centers is unnecessary, costly, and harmful. Most families crossing the border do not pose a flight risk, and need not be funneled into detention or restrictive custody. Community-based ATDs effectively reunite individuals with family members currently living in the U.S., connect people with faith-based hospitality communities, or invest in family case management which helps people navigate the legal system.
Family incarceration is inhumane, immoral, and wrought with abuse. Reports have documented​ guards using family separation or the threat of separation as a method of discipline, as well as children experiencing signs of psychological and physical trauma. The American Association of Pediatrics found that family detention facilities do not meet the basic standards​ for the care of children in residential settings and “no child should be in detention centers or separated from parents.” It is critical that the administration institute true alternatives to detention, as family prisons endanger children’s health and safety and cost millions of dollars to maintain.
ATDs are less expensive and allow for individuals to have access to services​ in the community while they wait for fair adjudication of their immigration and asylum claims. When utilized, ATDs prove to be effective. Over 90% of those participating in them appeared at court hearings and other immigration appointments. For example, the Family Case Management Program, which allowed families to be released and receive intensive case supervision; help with child care and education; connections to legal counsel; and more rather than simply be detained. The program was 99 percent effective​ at having families show up for check-ins and court appearances and also ensured departure from the United States for those who did not win asylum. And, at a cost of only $36 per day per family, it was far cheaper than family detention, which costs over $300 per person per day.​ Members of Congress should push for the administration to better utilize ATDs through appropriations and public statements.
As Congress considers funding for FY 2019, we call on Congress to reduce funding for immigration detention, deportation, and border militarization, and increase accountability and oversight of ICE and CBP. Pouring more money into the machinery of deportation and detention will not solve an outdated, punitive immigration system. Additional oversight​ of these agencies and border enforcement is essential to ensure adherence to international and U.S. law for asylum​ and human rights protection​ in immigration detention and enforcement.
Our faith has taught and called us to welcome the stranger, stand with the vulnerable, and love our neighbor. We call attention to the moral dimensions of public policy and recommend reforms that uphold the God-given dignity and rights of every person, each of whom are made in the image of God. Respecting the right to seek safety without fearing punishment through detention or separation from one’s children, parents, or other family members must be protected in policy.
Faith Leaders Alaska
Rev. Dr. Phil Campbell, Northern Light United Church
Fr. Bill Remmel, SDS, Retired
Rev. Frank Bergen, Episcopal Church of St. Matthew
Rev. Joseph Keesecker, Guadalupe Presbyterian Church
Grace Bunker, Casas Adobes Congregational UCC
Rev. David Buss, Retired
Rev. Mark S. Adams, Frontera de Cristo
Rev. Dr. Rula Colvin, Christ Church United Methodist
Don Benton, Director at DFUMC
Ms. Linda Redfield, Good Shepherd UCC
Rev. Dr. William Lyons, Southwest Conference United Church of Christ Dr. Kit Danley, Neighborhood Ministries
Rev. Hannah Bonner, The Wesley Foundation - Tucson
Rev. Randy Mayer, The Good Shepherd United Church Of Christ
Rev. Kenneth Kennon, The Christian Church (Disciples)
Margaret Burty, Dove of the Desert UMC
Pastor Kristina Schlabach, Shalom Mennonite Fellowship
Pastor Jim Wiltbank, St. Francis in the Foothills UMC
The Rev. Steve Keplinger, Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Rev. Jason Smith, Alliance of Baptists
Rev. Maxine Allen, Arkansas United Methodist Church Rev. Stephen Copley, Faith Voices Arkansas

Rev. Chris Rankin-Williams, St. John's Episcopal Church Rev. Melinda Dodge, Los Altos UMC
Rev. Dr. Mark Richardson, First United Methodist Church Rev. John Shaver, UMC

Sr. Claire Williams, Sisters of St Joseph
The Reverend Wilma Reichard, United Church of Christ
Sr. Catherine Minhoto, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Western American Province Reverend James Conn, Church in Ocean Park UMC
Reverend Janet Gollery McKeithen, The Church in Ocean Park
Rev. Emily Lin, Twin Towers UMC
Rev. Greta Sesheta, Agape International Spiritual Center
Rev. Will McGarvey, East County Shared Ministry (PCUSA & UCC)
Rev. Sophia DeWitt, First Congregational Church
Rev. Jason Bense, Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer
Pastor Elaine Schoepf, Seaside UCC
Bro. Mark Schroeder, O.F.M., Franciscans for Justice
Dr. Syed Ejaz Naqvi, Author/Blogger
Rev. David Farley, California Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Eileen Altman, First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, UCC
Rev. Heidi Worthen Gamble, Presbytery of the Pacific, PC(USA)
Rev. Dr. L Barrett, UCC
Rev. Marilyn Chilcote, St. John's Presbyterian Church Berkeley
The Rev. Paul Elder, St. Aidan's Episcopal Church
Rev. Andrew Schwiebert, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, PCUSA
Rev. Anita Warner, Advent Lutheran Church
Rev. Dr. Sharon Rhodes-Wickett, United Methodist
Rev. Marilyn Chilcote, St. Johns Presbyterian
Mindy Plick, Director of Children’s Ministry at Placentia Presbyterian Church
Rev. Mary Will, United Methodist Church (Retired)
Rev Dr Tobin E Wilson, Placentia Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Gail Stearns, Chapman University
Glafira Lopez, Campus Minister at Jesus for Revolutionaries
Rev. Diane Mettam, United Methodist Church
Hatem Bazian, Provost at Zaytuna College
Rev. Jason Bense, Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer and Gethsemane Lutheran Church Rev. Valerie McEntee, Congregational Church of San Mateo

Rev. Beverly Fest, United Methodist
Rev. Carol Fox, Plymouth Congregational Church
Rev. Ruth Billington, Plymouth United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Victoria A. Gardner, Crossroads
Mrs. Nancy DeLap, Plymouth Congregational UCC
Mr. Jay Bonnell, Broken Tree Community Church
Dr. Jeff Johnsen, Mile High Ministries
Silvia Fleitz, Lay Leader at Mancos United Methodist Church Rabbi Fred Greene, Congregation Har HaShem
Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny, Congregation Nevei Kodesh David Warren, Executive Director at Open Door Ministries

Sr. Maryann Mueller, Felician Sisters
Sr. Elaine Betoncourt, Sisters of St. Joseph
Sr. Christine Stankiewicz, Felician Sisters
Rev. Bryn Smallwood-Garcia Congregational Church of Brookfield (UCC)

Sr. Elizabeth Sweeney, SSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph
Sr. Rose Dolores Hoffelmeyer, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Rev. Carlos S. Reyes-Rodríguez, Wesley United Methodist Church

Rev. Dr. Russell Meyer, Lutheran Urban Parish of Tampa
Rev. Dr, William Olewiler, Fleming Island United Methodist
Deacon Steven Beumer, St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Rachel Gunter Shapard, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meyers, Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church
Pastor Dieter Randolph, Water and Stone Church

Rev. Valerie Coe Lowder, Kirkwood United Church of Christ Deacon Melanie Johnson, Rock of Ages Lutheran Church ELCA Rev. Dr. Lanny Peters, Oakhurst Baptist Church (Retired) Rev. Nibs Stroupe, Presbyterian Church USA (Retired)
Dr. Joe Sandifer, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta
Elder Mary Smarr, Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
Elder Sarah Humphrey, North Decatur Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Fahed Abuakel, Past Moderator of the 214th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. Bobbie Wrenn Banks, North Decatur Presbyterian Church
Elder Wanda White Oakhurst, Presbyterian Church
Deacon David Schutten, Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
Deacon Kathy Hancock, Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
Ruling Elder Nickolas Downey, Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
Rev. Bonnie Underwood, Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit
Rev. Tom Hagood, Columbia Presbyterian Church
Rev. Stacey Harwell-Dye, The United Methodist Church

Rev. Jeannie D. Thompson, Kapa’a United Church of Christ
Pastor Ruth Willford, Spirit Lake Presbyterian Church
The Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer, St. John's Episcopal Church Rev. Nayoung Ha, Hana Center
Rev. Dr. Linda Eastwood, McCormick Theological Seminary Dr. Ken Olson, Lord of Life Lutheran

John Cheung, Northbrook United Methodist Church
Sr. Rose Therese Nolta, SSpS, Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters - U.S.A. - JPIC Rev. Francisco Arroyo, United Methodist Church
Rev. Paula Cripps-Vallejo, Humboldt Park United Methodist Church
Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer, St. John's Episcopal Church

Rev. Doris Sparks, Trinity Lutheran Church
Sr. Mary McCauley, Sisters of Charity, BVM
Rev. Dr. Thomas Schattauer, Wartburg Theological Seminary Rev. Marion Pruitt-Jefferson, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Rev. Dr. (Associate Pastor) Ruth Rosell, Prairie Baptist Church Sr. Marie Modrcin, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
Sr. Sue Retherford, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
Sr. Mary Flynn, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth

Sr. Mary Murry, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
Sr Diane Hurley, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
Sr. MaryLex Smith, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
Sr. Regina Deitchman, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Sr. Nylas Moser, Adorers of the Blood of Christ
Pastor Luis Méndez, Fairview Christian Church
Rev. Kenneth K. Grenz, Valley View UMC

Rev. Donna Aros, Frankfort St Paul UMC
Rev. Sharon Felton, Faith Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Donna Morton, Fourth Ave. United Methodist Church
Sr. Elizabeth Skalicky, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
The Reverend Merry P. Jones, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Rev. Dr. Larry Stoess, The United Methodist Church of the Promise

The Rev. Gary Brooks, Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (Retired)
Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, HopeGateWay
Rev. Beth O’Malley, United Church of Christ
Retired Rev. Patricia Hollinger, Church of the Brethren/Quaker
Rev. Dr. Gloria Carpeneto, Living Water Inclusive Catholic Community
Sr. Mary Beth Hamm, SSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph
Sr. Cecilia Cyford, Sister of St. Joseph
Sr. Irene Dunn, SSJ
Sr. Mary Ellen Lacy, Daughters of Charity
Rev. Jean Alexander, First Congregational Church
The Reverend Mary Garner, St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Rev. Julie Wilson, Calvary United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Raymond Moreland, Calvary United Methodist Church
Rev. Deborah Vaughn, Twinbrook Baptist Church
Sr. Charmaine Krohe, SSND, School Sisters of Notre Dame-Atlantic-Midwest Province Rev. Dr. Eliezer Valentin-Castanon, Trinity United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Stacey Wilson, Baltimore-Washington Conference
Reverend Kenneth Humbert, Calvary United Methodist Church
Rev Deborah Scott, Lovely Lane United Methodist
Rev. Debra M. Linton, Centennial Memorial United Methodist Church
Rev. Kenneth Hawes, Hughes United Methodist Church

Rabbi Liza Stern, Congregation Eitz Chaym
The Rev. Dr. Cody Sanders, Old Cambridge Baptist Church
Rev. Dawn Adams, First Congregational Church of Brimfield, UCC Reverend Judith Hanlon, Hadwen Park Congregational Church Rev. Da Vita McCallister, First Church Somerville UCC
Rev. Kelly Gallagher, MACUCC
The Rev. Vicki Kemper, First Congregational Church, UCC

Rev. Alexander Steward, Trinity Lutheran Church
Rev. Kerry Taylor-Snyder, First Congressional Church UCC
Rev. Jack Eggleston, Unity Lutheran Church
Sr. Nancy Jamroz, Felician Sisters of North America
Rev. Deborah Dean-Ware, Church of the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ Sr. Mary Cynthia Ann Machlik, Felician Sisters
Rev. Robert Langseth
Rev. Wayne Shearier, Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran
Sr. S. M. Victoria Richardson, Felician Sisters
Rev. Lindsay Louise Biddle, Presbyterian Church (USA) Rev. Mary Kay Sauter, Plymouth Congregational Church The Rev. Dr. Paula Nordhem, United Church of Christ Sr. Jeanne Wingenter, School Sister of Notre Dame Rev. Erika Sanborne, United Church of Christ
Rev. Hannah Bergstrom de Leon, Minneola Lutheran Church (ELCA) Elder Peggy Roeske, Spirit of Life Presbyterian Church
Rev. T. Michael Rock, Robbinsdale United Church of Christ
Rev. Beth Rogers, Peace UCC

Rev. Howard Bell, Mayflower UCC
Rev. Leslie Moughty, First Congregational UCC, Brainerd
Rev. Dr. Anita Bradshaw, Mayflower Community Congregational, UCC
Mr. Martin A. M.Erickson III, Mayflower Community Congregational Church, UCC Mr. William Haslett, First UCC, Northfield, MN
Mrs. Jean Haslett, First UCC, Northfield, MN
Pastor Donald Olson, United Faith Community

Rev. Dr. Ann Michele Rogers-Brigham, Safe Harbor Family Church, UCC
Rev. Cynthia S. Bumb, United Church of Christ
Sr. Carol Boschert, Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O'Fallon, MO
Sr. Christine Garcia, School Sisters of Notre Dame
Sr. Rose Ann Ficker
Rev. Charles Bahn, Brentwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Dr Jane Fisler Hoffman, Southwood United Church of Christ
Rev. Tyler Connoley, United Church of Christ
Joyce Rauth Fears, Associate SCL at Associate SCL with Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth President Stephen Veazey, Community of Christ - International Headquarters
Rev. Dr. Kathryn Nix, Trinity UMC
Rev. Arodi Sanchez, Carthage Nazarene
Pastor Andy Krumsieg, Jubilee Community Church

Rev. Laura Folkwein, University Congregational UCC Rev John Lund, Emmaus Campus Ministry
Rev. John Daniels, First United Methodist Church
Mr. Stephen Shandera, St. Pius X Catholic Church
Sr. Donna Casey, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
Sr. Sharon Smith, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
Sr. Bernadette Helfert, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Rev. Jayson Nicholson, Our Savior’s Lutheran

Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace
Rev. Dr. Tim Bruster, First United Methodist Church
Sr. Sharon Altendorf, Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the BVM US Province Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Leader Susan Rose, Ethical Culture
Andrew Lang, Open and Affirming Coalition United Church of Christ
Director Sandy Sorensen, Washington Office United Church of Christ
Sr. Patricia Corbett, Congregation of St. Joseph
Mr. Patrick Carolan, Franciscan Action Network
Rev. Robin Drake, Peace of Christ Church
Sr. Patricia McDermott, RSM, President of Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Ph.D., Burton VisotzkyJTSA
Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
Rev.Stacey Siebrasse, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Ron Stief, United Church of Christ
Rev. Kate Kooyman, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Office of Social Justice Michelle Warren , Advocacy & Strategic Engagement Director at Christian Community Development Association
Ms. Hyepin Im, Faith and Community Empowerment (formerly KCCD)
Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelwey, United Church of Christ
Madeline Gonzalez-Lopez, Lancaster: Nueva Creación
Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie, Pacific University Center for Peace and Spirituality
Michael Pollock, Founding Director of Daraja TCK Ministries
Carol Blythe, Past-President of Alliance of Baptists
Carylla Franklin, Albuquerque Mennonite Church

Rev. Lisa Hadler, Brule Ogallala Parish United Church of Christ
The Rev. C. Brent Hoy-Bianchi, Member of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
New Hampshire
Recorded Minister Marian Baker, Weare-Henniker Friends Meeting
Reverend Dale Hempen, Retired UCC Clergy
Rev. Sandra Pontoh, Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ
Rev. Carlos Jauhola-Straight, South Church Concord NH United Church of Christ Rev. Holly Tomilson, Newfields Community Church

Rev. Bill Beardslee, Deering Community Church The Rev. Caroline Hines, St. Andrew's in the Valley
and more

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