An Appeal to Faith and Conscience
The Interfaith Justice Committee of The Federated Church and Am HaYam Havurah, with approval from the church Cabinet, shares the attached statement. It grows out of a sense of alarm at the increasingly harsh treatment of those along our borders seeking asylum as well as of undocumented persons here and across the country. It is the committee’s intent to offer guidance reflecting our two religions’ teachings as well as a moral vision of America’s heritage. While we may differ as to effective policies on complicated immigration matters, we believe persons of faith may unite on the principles offered here. The statement is being forwarded to media and shared with political leaders in Washington, D.C. and in our own area. The Justice Committee welcomes your questions and comments. Contact Rod MacDonald (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Appeal to Faith and Conscience Regarding U.S. Policy Concerning Refugees and Immigrants
As persons of Jewish and Christian faith traditions, we are compelled to speak on
behalf of those who have suffered, and potentially will suffer, from the enactment of the
current Administration’s policies concerning refugees and immigrants.
We are people shaped by Israel’s memory of sojourning in Egypt and laws mandating
generosity toward aliens; the story of Ruth the foreigner accompanying her mother-in-law Naomi
to Bethlehem and being welcomed among the gleaners; and Jesus’ words “I was a stranger and
you welcomed me.” Furthermore, our churches and synagogues share a heritage of welcoming
and resettling refugees over many years. The spirit which motivates us is that of openness and
generosity toward our neighbor, not of fears for our own security.
In recent months, we have witnessed the Administration’s attitude toward the nation’s
immigrants and refugees crystallize in its extreme policies, including:
Zero tolerance for those seeking asylum who cross our nation’s borders, resulting in inhumane separation of children from parents and burgeoning detentions and deportations;
Drastic decrease in the U.S. goal for number of refugees to be received in 2019, with the actual number likely to be many fewer due to the ban on majority Muslim nations and vetting procedures which have been rendered impossibly challenging for many persons;
Large increases in the arrests, detentions and deportations of unauthorized residents who have committed no crimes, uprooting lives and families;
Proposed denial of green card legal status to immigrants who receive basic government services (such as nutrition and medical care) which might help them to become self sustaining. Accepting these services would jeopardize eligibility for permanent residency.
These policies have been promulgated through fear and false claims about the lives of
newcomers and their impact upon this country. They have diminished the U.S.’s position of
moral authority in the world. The push back from our elected leaders has been tepid or nonexistent
to this assault on American values.
Therefore: because we recognize the genuine contributions to our communities and
society of immigrants, refugees, asylees, and those here on Temporary Protected Status,
We call on Congress finally to enact immigration reform, with sensible border protections, merciful and humane responses to refugees and those seeking asylum, and reasonable policies toward the millions of unauthorized persons living in our midst;
We call on the Administration to cease the arbitrary arrests, detentions and deportations of persons who have not been convicted of serious crimes;
We seek and act upon truth and facts, not falsehoods and scare tactics;
We insist, above all, that documented and undocumented persons alike be treated with the humanity and dignity they deserve.
In summary, we call on all people of faith and good will to work toward moral
approaches in responding to this crisis for our nation and world.
The Interfaith Justice Committee of the Federated Church of Orleans and Am HaYam Havurah