We the undersigned clergy in the greater San Bernardino area promote the just treatment of all immigrants on our borders, especially the recent refugees of unaccompanied minors and women from Central America fleeing violence caused in part by the War on Drugs and the market for drugs in the United States.
We as a diverse and interfaith group of clergy, can agree upon the wisdom found in the command in the Book of Leviticus “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (19:34 NRSV) With the exception of indigenous Americans, our ancestors were aliens in these United States at one time or another and are bound to treat the people coming across our borders with dignity and respect.
The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has called on the United States to treat the unaccompanied minors and mothers with children with compassion. They “like Sudanese or Syrian refugees, these people are fleeing hunger, violence, and the fear of rape, murder, and enslavement. The violence in Central America has escalated significantly in recent months, particularly as a result of gangs and trafficking in drugs and human beings. These people are literally fleeing for their lives.”
Derek Duncan of the United Church of Christ writes, “Stemming the tide of children requires an increase in investment in human development throughout Latin America and trade and economic reforms that benefit communities rather than companies. It requires funding projects that protect women and children and fight human trafficking. Prevention calls upon the U.S. to do more to strengthen government institutions and promote the rule of law throughout the hemisphere, and it suggests we provide greater emphasis on nurturing violence prevention in schools, homes and communities, rather than enabling the proliferation of guns and weapons that too easily arm the gangs and cartels that commit violence.”
As people of faith, we strongly support the additional $1.8 billion in emergency supplemental funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which cares not only for unaccompanied immigrant children such as the ones we see arriving daily but also for refugees, victims of trafficking, survivors of torture, Cuban/Haitian entrants, and Iraqi and Afghan SIV holders who supported U.S. troops abroad. This funding is critical to ensuring that the United States fulfills its humanitarian, legal, and moral commitments to vulnerable people.*
We urge all people regardless of faith tradition to review the information contained in the Interfaith Weekend of Compassion and Prayer for Unaccompanied Migrant Children. The resource packet may be accessed on a United Methodist Church website at http://www.calpacumc.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/07/Interfaith-Weekend-Resource-Packet.pdf. The packet contains information for the Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish faiths as well as ways in which people may help. Information on the refugee issue from a Roman Catholic perspective may be found at http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/. The Lutheran (ELCA) response may be found here:
* TESTIMONY OF ALEXANDER D. BAUMGARTEN AND KATIE CONWAY ON BEHALF OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, July 10, 2014, Alexander D. Baumgarten is the Director of Government Relations, and Katie Conway is the Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst for the Episcopal Church, a multinational religious denomination based in the United States with members in 15 other sovereign nations. Rev. Leonard DePasquale, St. Bernardine Parish, San Bernardino, Rev. Petra Malleis-Sternberg, San Bernardino, Rev. Dr. Sally Burton, San Bernardino, Pastor Scottie Lloyd, San Bernardino Clergy, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Pastor David Nagler, San Bernardino, Rev. David Starr, Saint John’s Episcopal Church San Bernardino