On Thursday, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, along with leaders of a number of other denominations and faith traditions, issued a statement condemning the practice of separating children of migrant families from their parents at the border. It is relatively short, and direct in naming the key issues.
“We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. 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 parents and children.”
This statement follows on a similar effort by leaders in the evangelical community, who delivered a letter to President Trump last week to express their concerns about the “zero tolerance policy” of sending parents and children to separate, and often very geographically distant, detention facilities while their cases wind through the judicial system. Arizona Central reports that,
“The letter calls on Trump to keep migrant families together, saying they should only be separated ‘in the rarest of instances.’ The letter also asks his administration to take into account children’s well being in deciding when to prosecute first-time border-crossers.
“‘A ‘zero tolerance’ policy removes that discretion — with the effect of removing even small children from their parents,’ the document read. ‘The traumatic effects of this separation on these young children, which could be devastating and long-lasting, are of utmost concern.'”
As with race and class, immigration is a divisive issue in the U.S. right now, one on which religious leaders of all stripes are voicing their concerns about current policy and practices. As we noted in this space last week, time will tell what effects – good and bad – their efforts will have.
Friday afternoon update: the bishops of Virginia have added their support to the letter.