For Immediate Release: December 4, 2018
Contact: Erin Williams | EWilliams@faithinaction.org 202-748-0699
Letter recommends three congressional actions to end demonizing politics and funding policies that incite violence
WASHINGTON, DC — In a letter delivered to congressional leaders on Tuesday, more than 800 clergy members from 43 states and Washington, D.C., sponsored by DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network, a campaign of Faith in Action, strongly denounced hateful anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, and urged lawmakers to cut funding for President Trump’s deportation machine.
The letter was delivered to Capitol Hill by a delegation of clergy led by Rev. Scott Lipscomb, Assistant Rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Capitol Hill, and Rabbi Hannah Goldstein, Temple Sinai, Washington, D.C. The letter rebukes Trump’s anti-immigrant policies set for debate as Congress considers the government funding bill, which includes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and massive spending increases for immigrant detentions and deportations. The funding discussion also comes after violence at the California-Mexico border, resulting from Trump’s dictum that no new asylum applicants will be allowed to enter the U.S.
“Our nation has lost its moral compass regarding the treatment of immigrants, and our actions today reflect the outrage and sadness shared by hundreds of faith leaders from across the U.S.,” said Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, director of Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
During the letter delivery to the offices of House and Senate leaders, 30 clergy and faith leaders carried candles with the message, “Be the Light,” to highlight their ask that Congress be the guiding light toward compassionate and humane policies. They also sang and recited multi-faith prayers.
”Today, we join as communities of faith to seek Light together, and we call upon our leaders to Be the Light in each vote they make. Be the Light that resists harmful border enforcement policies that drive asylum seekers, migrants, and other vulnerable individuals into more dangerous and often deadly routes,” the group recited in prayer.
Before the letter distribution, faith community leaders held a news conference where they recited teachings of their faiths and noted how the White House and current Congress have strayed from long-standing values of treating immigrants with compassion.
Trump’s aggressive policies on the border coincide with his demand that his $25 billion border wall get a $5 billion down payment in the FY 2019 DHS bill. With funds to operate the federal government set to expire soon, Trump is threatening to shutdown the government if Congress does not go his way on the wall, which will not be paid for by Mexico as he previously pledged.
The clergy urge Congress to block Trump’s hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, including funding for the border wall, to help the nation heal from the recent politics of “discord, division and violence we see around us,” according to the letter.
“We see our nation sliding into a dangerous and disorienting period which threatens the fabric of community and the notion that we are all sisters and brothers to one another. In disorienting times such as these, we return to the faith values which root all of our traditions: love, human dignity, compassion and justice,” the letter states.
Members of the clergy called on Congress to take three steps:
- Denounce and condemn rhetoric that dehumanizes any part of our human family, including the varieties of ethno-nationalist, racist and xenophobic speech which have moved from the fringe to the center of our public life. These words matter and your condemnation or silence matters even more;”
- Rein in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by reducing their funding. This will slow the socially and environmentally destructive efforts to militarize our southern border regions, and will hold accountable the immigration enforcement agencies that are traumatizing families and communities across our country….cut their funding to ensure that there will be a reduction in the number of immigration agents, a reduction in the number of beds available to detain undocumented immigrants, and no new funds for the border wall;
- Make public comments against the proposed change in public policy regarding “public charge,” which is yet another step in the process of vilifying and punishing immigrants, regardless of their status.
The faith leaders also hold Congress responsible for railing to resolve the anxiety of DACA and TPS recipients who are lawfully living in the U.S. but with uncertain futures because of the administration’s attempts to end their temporary programs and deport them.
“We feel a responsibility to call our nation back to a shared vision of community and solidarity, even as we mourn the impact of the discord, division and violence we see around us,” added Stanley-Rea. “It is not too late to reverse the troubling course we find ourselves on,” the letter states.
The letter and the list of signatories can be found here at http://bit.ly/FIAletter
Groups participating in the letter delivery included: Faith in Action/DMV Sanctuary Congregations Network; Interfaith Immigration Coalition; St. Mark’s Episcopal Capitol Hill; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Disciples Hispanic Ministries; Sojourners; Franciscan Action Network; Church World Service; Faith in Public Life; Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; Leadership Conference of Women Religious; NETWORK; and Sisters of Mercy.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of 52 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, we work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants. Participating organizations include Faith in Action, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), The Episcopal Church, Faith in Public Life, National Council of Jewish Women, Leadership Council of Women Religious, Sojourners, Franciscan Action Network, and Church World Service.