On Monday, May 7th, a decision was made to separate children from their parents at our southern border if they attempt to cross our southern border illegally (which is a misdemeanor).
There is an estimated 2000 children (updated number) being held in facilities along the US-Mexican border.
Some would say that if someone breaks the law, there are consequences. Others would say that this is a deterrent to stop further illegal immigration.
It may be legal to separate families, but it is cruel.
I would ask, do two wrongs make a right? (Families crossing the border illegally + families being separated by law enforcement = a just decision).
There are other ways to handle families who cross the border illegally that does not involve separation. I am not advocating for open borders. I am calling for compassion.
When I reflect on the story in the gospel of Matthew of when Joseph and Mary fled with baby Jesus because of King Herod’s jealousy, I am glad to hear Jesus was not separated from his parents when they arrived at the Egyptian border.
You have heard me cite this verse before because it speaks to this issue clearly.
“Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.” Exodus 23:9 Also see Leviticus 19:33-34
How do we love our neighbor as ourselves while still having boundaries? I am not convinced separating families is loving or even “tough love.”
Our Presiding Bishop released a statement with other religious leaders regarding this issue. Below is that statement.
Recently, the Administration announced that it will begin separating families and criminally prosecuting all people who enter the U.S. without previous authorization. As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our concern for the wellbeing of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives, we are deeply disappointed and pained to hear this news.
We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children.
As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families that will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.
His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
Diocesan Legate and Director of the Ecumenical Office
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
Mr. Azhar Azeez President
Islamic Society of North America
The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton, PA
Chair, Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
Senior Bishop George E. Battle, Jr.
Presiding Prelate, Piedmont Episcopal District
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Bishop H. Kenneth Carter, Jr.
President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop Episcopal Church (United States)
The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer
General Minister & President
United Church of Christ
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rev. David Guthrie
President, Provincial Elders’ Conference
Moravian Church Southern Province
Mr. Glen Guyton
Mennonite Church USA
The Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
Union for Reform Judaism
Mr. Anwar Khan
Islamic Relief USA
The Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller
President, Provincial Elders’ Conference
Moravian Church Northern Province
The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rabbi Jonah Pesner
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
The Rev. Don Poest
Interim General Secretary
The Rev. Eddy Alemán
Candidate for General Secretary
Reformed Church in America
Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick III
Presiding Bishop, The Eighth Episcopal District
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
The Rev. Phil Tom
International Council of Community Churches
Mr. Jim Winkler
General Secretary & President
National Council of Churches USA
Senior Bishop McKinley Young
Presiding Prelate, Third Episcopal District
African Methodist Episcopal Church