Immigrant children have been separated from their mothers and families for years under our broken immigration policies. Some of us still recall seeing them detained in McAllen, Texas in a repurposed factory in 2014. The place was frigid cold and children as little as 3 years old were being held in cages. We saw them at Port Hueneme, California, more than 300 of them as unaccompanied children came from Central America. An educational company was being paid big bucks to hold these children prisoners. We were told not to speak to the children. And now we see them in Tornillo, Texas being detained in tents. I cannot help but remember the Tent City of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix, Arizona, a cruel anti-immigrant power monger who bragged about his “Concentration Camp.” Immigrant children have died in the desert of our Southern border, in the Rio Grande River, and crossing border streets into this country. They are also dying in the places from which they flee in the arms of their mothers and fathers.
Our broken immigration policies and even more, our immoral response to immigrant children in perilous danger are disgraceful reflections of a nation that has lost a part of its soul. Political leaders starting with the President of this country have failed us. Trump isn’t the only President to fail. The line of Presidents who have been unable to move beyond political expediency, and who have not had the inner justice conviction to inspire and demand necessary change in the way we treat immigrants, is long. Trump, however, has proven himself the cruelest among them. As a United Methodist, I am also ashamed of the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a United Methodist and either never learned the truths taught in our holy scripture or now is willing to sacrifice his faith for his political position.
Separating children from their parent at the border as they seek asylum runs counter to our country’s laws as well as moral understanding of justice. A call from the Executive branch for a Zero Tolerance Policy that allows the abuse of children to send a political message to immigrants is unconscionable! If President Trump and Attorney General Sessions do not have the capacity to understand this or the will to turn from their evil ways, Congress will need to step up.
I pray that people of good will and faith will also step up all across this country. I know that many of us are feeling overwhelmed and at a loss of knowing what else to do. Many of us have been persevering advocates for humane and just treatment of immigrants and refugees for decades. Let us keep our work in perspective – no one has struggled more or lost more than our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters. In this dark hour, let us keep raising our voices for justice, especially for immigrant and refugee children.
This coming week, let us take time to pray with immigrant and refugee families. Share a meal with them. Let them know they are not alone, and that they are not wrong for seeking life for themselves and for their children.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
San Francisco Area of The United Methodist Church
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