Clergy and institutional leaders of Dallas Area Interfaith and other SW IAF affiliate organizations throughout the United States are preparing to deliver a letter to President Obama and Members of Congress calling for specific actions regarding the mothers, children and adolsecents now detained under terrible considtions at our southern borders. You may DOWNLOAD a copy of the draft letter in PDF, and the full text of the letter is quoted below. If you are a clergy member or institutional leader of any SW IAF affiliate organization like DAI, you are invited to add your name as a signatory to that letter by completing the linked FORM.
The full text of the draft letter is quoted below, and will be printed on the letterhead of the SW IAF. Logos or other identifiers of SW IAF affiliate organizations may be added for those whose clergy become signatories.
July 21, 2014
Dear President Obama and Members of Congress,
We are distressed by the cries of the young mothers, children and adolescents now detained under terrible conditions at our southern borders. Moreover, we suffer with them. We remember that in many ways, our own government policies have contributed to the untenable conditions now driving the refugees to our gates. They are refugees fleeing the drug and gang wars in homelands that currently boast the highest murder rates in the world.
Our current treatment of these children violates our integrity as a nation and as people of faith: "... show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart." (Zechariah 7:9-10.)
Instead, we strongly urge the following three measures:
1. That the existing law, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008, which applies to children who arrive at our borders, not be weakened or abrogated. Those who come to us seeking refuge should not be returned to their home countries without being given due process which would assure that they will not be returned to child traffickers or to the hands of those who would murder them. Once deemed safe, the refugees could return to their homes.
2. Anyone under the age of eighteen who has survived the perilous trip north must have an attorney, and must never be subjected to expedited processing. These children know they can be killed for speaking out against the gangs, and they have no familiarity with our legal system. To permit the expedited deportation of unrepresented children is unconscionable.
3. Those who would meet the religious needs of the children and families must be allowed access to the U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities and religious, human rights and civic groups must be allowed access to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters for unaccompanied minors. Community leaders can and should provide humanitarian support to the overwhelmed detention centers and shelters.
We take seriously our government's concerns for national security and the orderly control of immigration affairs. However, the solution does not lie in punishing the children.
We must welcome our brothers and sisters.