For Immediate Release: December 10, 2018
Voices of clergy grow as Democratic leaders prepare to meet with Trump and public comment period ends for proposed changes to “public charge” rule
WASHINGTON, DC — As negotiations heat up on a bill to fund the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including massive spending increases for immigrant detentions and deportations, 1,036 clergy and faith leaders from all 50 states and the District of Columbia are intensifying their opposition to any bill that continues funding Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, including the border wall. The president has threatened to shut down the government if he does not get a $5 billion down payment for the start of his wall plus funding for enormous expansion of immigrant detention beds.
Congressional leaders are scheduled to meet with Trump Tuesday. Also, today is the deadline for public comments regarding the administration’s proposed changes to the “public charge” rule that would make it more difficult for immigrants to remain in the country.
In a recently delivered letter
, clergy who work and stand with immigrant community members in every state in the US — including those which have experienced significant increases in immigrant and refugee arrivals, such as DE, IN, MN, ND, PA, SD and WV — urged Congressional leaders to help the nation find its “way back from the demonizing and dehumanizing rhetoric and policies which not only sow fear and anger, but as we have seen over and over, incite acts of violence.”
“I know it is my moral responsibility to speak up,” said letter signer Imam Ali Siddiqui. “No one leaves their ancestral home and homeland and walks thousands of miles [just] to seek asylum. When socio-political environments become so corrosive and unbearable that they leave everything behind looking for friendly and welcoming communities, God commands us to welcome the strangers, give water to the thirsty, feed the hungry, and protect the weak and the oppressed.“
Rabbi Hannah Goldstein of Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C., said Congress must handle this “moral emergency.”
“As a faith leader and as a Rabbi, I feel compelled to speak with a moral voice. I signed the Faith in Action letter because we are in the midst of a moral emergency, and we must do anything we can to change this reality,” Rabbi Goldstein said. “As a Jew, the images of people arriving at our borders seeking refuge are all too familiar. At a time when dehumanizing rhetoric is commonplace, when immigrants live in fear, when we perpetuate a myth that a militarized border is the only way to meet those fleeing their homes in fear, we need to reconnect with our humanity and morals.”
“What is happening at the border is horrifying and contrary to the ideals of the American promise,” said Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, director of Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice. “While we’ve often fallen short of the promise our nation holds, tear gassing children and asylum seekers is a low that is sinful and just plain evil. Asylum seekers try to come here compelled by hope. Their hope in a better way of life has been criminalized, tear gassed and put in cages. It should not be this way! We strongly urge Congress to put an end to this. Stop expanding funding for a militarized border, more deportations and detentions.”
The letter, sponsored by LA RED, a campaign of Faith in Action, outlines three steps for Congress to take immediately:
Denounce and condemn rhetoric that dehumanizes any part of our human family;
Reduce funding for DHS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP);
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. Today is the deadline for the public to submit comments opposing the proposed changes.
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.
Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO National Network, is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 46 local and state federations. For more information visit www.faithinaction.org.