The Coalition of Religious Leaders in New Jersey expresses our deep concern and opposition over the immigration policies that are being implemented by the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and affirmed by President Donald Trump. These policies negate the very core values of the faith traditions which we represent.
The present policy has impacted over two thousand children in the past six weeks, children of immigrant parents seeking safety and security for their families. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of the children and their parents. These children have been taken away from their parents, their sole sense of security, with no understanding of what happened to them, or if they will ever see their family again. These children are put into the care of the office of Refugee Resettlement and with cruel irony then processed as “unaccompanied”. These children are thrust into a detention center, often without an advocate or an attorney, and in some cases the presence of an adult who can speak their language. Weeks can pass before a parent knows the whereabouts of their child. This unprecedented policy traumatizes the child and the parent.
The Trump administration implemented these policies. The Administration has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. This policy grows out of the Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that takes children from their parents as they seek to cross the border.
As Religious Leaders we deeply lament the pain and fear placed upon members of the human family. Our sacred texts underscore that we have a religious duty to show compassion and justice for all members of the human family. Families are the foundational element of our society and both common sense and the most basic ethical standard requires that children and their guardians must be able to stay together. As persons of faith we oppose this cruel enforcement policy that forcibly separates children from their families.
As faith leaders from across a wide spectrum of beliefs and traditions here in New Jersey we call upon members of our New Jersey Congressional Delegation, our Governor, Phil Murphy, and our State Legislators to express their deep concern and opposition to these policies. Our concern is exemplified in our best ideals and beliefs. It is a protest against the hardening of the American heart.
This statement was endorsed by Bishop John Schol and some thirty state wide religious Leaders including Episcopal Bishop Mark Beckwith, Luthren Bishop Tracie Bartholomew, Cardinal Joesph Tobin, Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz, and Imam W Deen Shareef.
Contact: Rev. Jack Johnson