News & Media

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2018

Contact Erin Williams, ewilliams@faithinaction.org

(202) 748-0699

WASHINGTON – Faith in Action, an international network of 39 congregations and religious groups in the United States, and three countries, today called on Congress to fully investigate the treatment of undocumented immigrants that has become a humanitarian crisis. Following reports that a Minnesota man was violently taken from a courthouse by unidentified U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents; that a child died after being released from a detention facility in Texas; that a six-year-old girl was sexually abused and forced to sign a statement accepting responsibility for her assault; and that 711 kidnapped children remain separated from their parents because of the federal government’s failures, Faith in Action urged its network to rise up and resist morally reprehensible behavior. The group vowed to speak with one million voters this election cycle in an effort to elect candidates who will support children and families without regard to those families’ skin color, religious affiliation, immigration status or sexual orientation.

“We are deeply disturbed that elected leaders continue to permit the willful terrorizing of children and families. Centuries after slavery was declared illegal, the practice of breaking up families continues. This suggests that our nation both fails to see the humanity of people of color and that it is committed to ensuring grievous harm to the most vulnerable members of our society, children,” said Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director, Faith in Action.

“We are urging our network of clergy across the country to call their respective Members of Congress and urge a prompt investigation into the horrific handling of undocumented children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles at the border and in the interior,” said Richard Morales, campaign director, Faith in Action’s LA RED immigrant justice campaign. “Congress has the power to end this humanitarian crisis and we will not rest until they do so.”

“There is no justification or plausible defense for the brutal methods of immigration agents under the supervision of DHS and the current administration. As members of the faith community, we are urging Congress to do its job and fully investigate the legal and moral violations that continue to occur in government facilities across our nation,” Morales continued.

“We know that Congress has been slow to rein in an administration that has proven to be anti-poor, anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-Muslim and anti-family,” Herring said. “They are slow-walking this escalating problem, but we have a message for them: If you refuse to act, we will elect leaders who will. We will talk to more than one million voters this election cycle and remind them whose side their elected leaders stand on. We are watching to see what Congress does and if they do not act, we will.”

We’ve outlined a list of the most recent and troubling episodes involving undocumented children and adults:

•       ISAIAH Minnesota immigrants’ rights advocate Carlos Urrutia, was abruptly taken into custody: “‘Like a kidnapping’: ICE snatches 25-year Minnesota resident from his family in harrowing video: Plainclothes, refusal to show ID, threats of federal assault charges — all in the broad daylight of a county courthouse.” – ThinkProgress: https://thinkprogress.org/carlos-immigrant-taken-by-ice-minnesota-courthouse-b8df5da98eb8/

•       “A 6-Year-Old Girl Was Sexually Abused in an Immigrant-Detention Center: Separated from her mother by Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, the child was forced to sign a statement confirming that she understood it was her responsibility to stay away from her abuser.” – The Nation: https://www.thenation.com/article/six-year-old-girl-sexually-abused-immigrant-detention-center/

•       “U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ruled that conditions at the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Manvel, Texas, violate a 1997 court settlement that dictates how the government must care for minors who entered the country illegally on their own or were separated from their parents….(employees) administered psychotropic drugs to minors without their parents’ consent, kept some minors in overly-restrictive confinement, and forbade minors from making private phone calls.” – USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/07/30/judge-orders-minors-transferred-out-immigration-detention-facility/868466002/

•       “711 children in custody have not been reunited with their parents. Buzzfeed found that child detainees are currently suffering from grave physical and mental abuse. Children have been hit and kicked, fed raw meat, and taunted by guards who pretend to find their parents.” BuzzFeed: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/amberjamieson/separated-children-abuse-kicked

“America prides itself on being a Christian nation, but the behavior of U.S. government officials falls far outside the lines of what our sacred texts command. Congress must find its moral compass and do right by human beings terrorized by our government,”  Herring concluded.

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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 45 local and state federations. For more information visit www.faithinaction.org.

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