Christian, Catholic, Lutheran, and Jewish leaders call for an end to detention of families
On April 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

March 26, 2015

Honorable Barack H. Obama

President

United States of America

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

Mr. President:

As faith leaders representing churches, synagogues, and faith-based organizations in the United States who are deeply committed to upholding this country’s moral leadership to protect children and the sanctity of the family, we call on you to end the harsh policy of family detention and employ alternatives to detention where deemed necessary. We believe this practice to be inhumane and harmful to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of this vulnerable population.

We also believe that it is inappropriate and unjust to seek to deter anyone, especially a woman and her children, from fleeing violence in their homeland to seek safe haven in the United States. A recent decision by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., which issued an injunction halting the detention of families, agreed with this assessment, concluding that a strategy of deterrence does not warrant the deprivation of individual liberty.

As people of faith, we are guided by admonitions to care for and protect children. Studies have shown that detention has a harmful psychological effect on children, in which they grow despondent, lose weight, and do not advance in their intellectual or emotional growth. Detention also undermines family bonds and parental authority. Moreover, children and their parent(s) have already experienced trauma on their journey, with many of the women having endured sexual violence. Placing survivors of violence in detention only adds to their trauma and sense of insecurity. It also subjects them to possible further emotional or physical abuse.

These families are not a threat to our communities—they pose no risk to our safety and have committed no crimes. They are themselves fleeing real forms of terror, with a majority having valid asylum claims. While in detention they have less ability to access counsel to help them with their claims, leaving them without due process protections. Their detention also hinders the ability to gather evidence of their persecution, diminishing their chances of obtaining protection.

Instead of incarcerating these vulnerable families, we urge you to reconsider the need to detain them and release them on their recognizance or explore other alternatives, such as placement in a community-based case management program.

Mr. President, detaining mothers and babies who come to this country in search of refuge from violence and abuse is morally troubling. The Bible is very clear—we are called to welcome the stranger. We ask you to consider whether you are prepared for your legacy to include the purposeful detention of innocent mothers and babies in furthering an ineffective policy of deterrence that violates fundamental tenants of our faiths and the American ideal of providing freedom and refuge to the persecuted. The incarceration of vulnerable mothers and children fleeing violence in their home countries is a stain on the record of this Administration.

We urge you to reverse course on this policy and implement alternatives for all families in immigration detention which are humane and uphold the human rights of this vulnerable population. Our faith communities are ready and willing to welcome and assist families seeking refuge.

Sincerely,

U.S. Catholic Bishops

Most Reverend Gustavo Garcia-Siller Archbishop of San Antonio, Texas

 

Most Reverend Thomas Wenski Archbishop of Miami, FL

 

Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio Bishop of Brooklyn, NY

 

Most Reverend Eusebio Elizondo Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle, WA

 

Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas Bishop of Tucson, AZ

 

Most Reverend Mark Seitz Bishop of El Paso, Texas

 

Most Reverend Jaime Soto Bishop of Sacramento, CA

 

Most Reverend James Tamayo Bishop of Laredo, Texas

 

Most Reverend Anthony B. Taylor Bishop of Little Rock, AR

 

Most Reverend John C. Wester Bishop of Salt Lake City, UT

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA

 

Bishop Abraham Allende, Northeastern Ohio Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Jon Anderson, Southwestern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Jim Arends, La Crosse Area Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Jeff Barrow, Greater Milwaukee Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Tracie L. Bartholomew, New Jersey Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Leonard Bolick, North Carolina Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Terry Brandt, Eastern North Dakota Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke, Oregon Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Michael Burk, Southeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Claire S. Burkat, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA

Bishop Jessica Crist, Montana Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Steven Delzer, Southeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Suzanne Dillahunt, Southern Ohio Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Robert L. Driesen, Upper Susquehanna Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Ralph Dunkin, West Virginia-West Maryland Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Jim Dunlop, Lower Susquehanna Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop R. Guy Erwin, Southwest California Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Murray D. Finck, Pacifica Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Mary Froiland, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA

 

Bishop William Gafkjen, Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Michael Girlinghouse, Arkansas- Oklahoma Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Julian Gordy, Southeastern Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Richard H. Graham, Metropolitan Washington, D. C. Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Roger Gustafson, Central States Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Wolfgang Herz-Lane, Delaware- Maryland Synod, ELCA

Bishop Mark Holmerud, Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Rick Hoyme, Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA

 

Bishop Richard Jaech, Southwestern Washington Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Kevin S. Kanouse, Northern Texas- Northern Louisiana Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Donald P. Kreiss, Southeast Michigan Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Marcus C. Lohrmann, Northwestern Ohio Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Brian Maas, Nebraska Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop John Macholtz, Upstate New York Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Gerald Mansholt, Central Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA

 

Bishop James Mauney, Virginia Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Wayne Miller, Metropolitan Chicago Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Mark Narum, Western North Dakota Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Rodger Prois, Western Iowa Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Michael Rhyne, Allegheny Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Robert Rimbo, Metropolitan New York Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Michael Rinehart, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, ELCA

Bishop S. John Roth, Central/Southern Illinois Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Craig Satterlee, North/West Lower Michigan Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Robert Schaefer, Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Ann Svennungsen, Minneapolis Area Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Steve Talmage, Grand Canyon Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Ray Tiemann, Southwestern Texas Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Steven Ullestad, Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop B. Kirby Unti, Northwest Washington Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Shelley Wickstrom, Alaska Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Lawrence R. Wohlrabe, Northwestern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Gary Wollersheim, Northern Illinois Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop Herman Yoos, South Carolina Synod, ELCA

 

Bishop David B Zellmer, South Dakota Synod, ELCA

 

Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

Rev. John R Denninger, President, Southeastern District, LCMS

 

Rev. Kurtis D. Schultz, President, Southern District, LCMS

Rev. Dr. Larry Stoterau, President, Pacific Southwest District, LCMS

 

Rev. Gregory S. Walton, President, Florida- Georgia District, LCMS

 

National Hispanic Evangelical Coalition

Dr. Gabriel Salguero

President, National Hispanic Evangelical Coalition

Pastor, Lambs Church

 

Jewish Leaders

Robert Cohen, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit

 

Rabbi Michael E. Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition

 

Rabbi Eli Freedman

 

Rabbi Jonathan D. Klein, Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA)

 

Rabbi George Stern

 

Christian Reformed Church North America

 Dr. Steve Timmermans, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church North America

 

United Church of Christ

Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ

 

Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ

Rev. James Moos, Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ

Rev. J. Bennett Guess, Executive Minister, Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ”

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  http://www.usccb.org/news/2015/15-050.cfm

 

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