Family Separation- How To Get Involved
Our news reports and social media feeds have been full of the issues facing immigrants entering the country. It can be hard to separate fact from fiction, political from journalism, faith-based from secular. We can feel a range of emotions ranging from fear to empathy to anger to frustration to absolute heartbreak- all in a single day or hour. It is so overwhelming and so complex wemay feel that we don’t know where to start or how we canmake a difference.
I’d like to offer a few simple steps to start:1. Learn the facts:
On May 7, 2018 the Attorney General announced a“zero tolerance” policy stating border officials with theDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) are to crimi- nally prosecute individuals who do not cross the border at an official port of entry to the country.
Previously, individuals found crossing the border were sent to an immigrant detention center and sent before an immigration judge. With the new policy, indi- viduals are sent to federal jail and are being sent before a federal judge, therefore, being separated from their children.
According to the Department of Homeland Security report 1,995 minors were separated from an adult from April 19 through May 31 alone.
Children are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within 72 hours and held in a gov- ernment facility while trying to locate their nearest rela- tive in the United States. As of June 7th, ORR facilities were already 95% full.
2. Donate: There are many organizations providing legal representation to children who have been separated from their families. The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), supported by our One Great Hour of Sharing and other spe-cial offerings at UPC, also “supports the Presbyterian Church(USA) humanitarian response to and advocacy on behalf ofrefugees, asylum seekers and other forced migrants”.
3. Contact your US Senator and Representative: Encourage them to speak out against family separation. Let them know this is not acceptable. It must stop.
4. Join the Missions Committee on Sunday, June 24th: We will be providing an overview of how our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), is getting involved as well as in- dividual ways to take action. We will also have a table in the fellowship hall with advocacy postcards, calling scripts, and information about immigrants and refugees. We would wel- come your conversation and questions.
3. Also feel free to join us at an upcoming MissionCommittee meeting or let us know how you’d like tosee UPC address immigration as a welcoming com- munity.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Stated Clerk the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, II, released the following statement on the policy of family separation at the 223rd General Assembly:
“What has this nation become? How have we wandered so far from Jesus’ kind admonition, “Let the little children come to me ... for it is tosuch as these that the kingdom of heaven be-longs.” How can this be happening in a nation inwhich so many claim the traditions of Christian- ity, Judaism and Islam and the critical importance of families to the fabric of our lives together?
Perhaps the most egregious aspect of this policy is the willingness of the highest legal official of our nation to suggest that if a mother has fled violence in her own country to save herself and her children, but has not had a chance to make a proper petition for safety in the U.S., she should be taught a lesson by having her children taken from her. It is almost incomprehensible that these acts should be used as a warning to others who would come.
What makes matters worse is the audacity ofquoting the Apostle Paul’s admonition to believ-ers in Romans 13:1 to obey the law (presumably whatever the law says), while ignoring the higherscriptural demand that “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).
The crisis of tens of thousands of desperate peo- ple coming to the United States for relief seems almost overwhelming. But as the officials of our government attempt to address the crisis, we cannot afford to tarnish the highest values of our nation. We must not punish desperate parents by tearing their children away from them, leaving the parents without access to the children or as- surance of their welfare.
In the name of God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stop!”
Together in faith,
Chair, Missions Committee