I WAS A STRANGER
The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County joins its voice with the many Interfaith communities who stand in opposition to the current Presidential Administration’s immigration and refugee policies.
We are especially horrified by the Attorney General’s decision to implement policies that engage in separating children from their parents. The International community now sees the United States as a nation in violation of basic human rights and dignity. We concur with that judgement. This situation breaks our hearts for we as a nation have historically been a refuge for the hopeless and a cause for justice in the world. While our record is not perfect, our growing awareness of human dignity and the rights of all people to live in peace has been the front and center of traditional American foreign policy.
While we agree that any nation has a right to secure its borders and the safety of its citizens, by our treaty obligations we also have an obligation to come to the aid of the desperate of the world. In this particular situation, we are advocating for the rights of refugees who are seeking political asylum. No law is justified when it infringes on the rights of human beings to be treated with respect and justice. The current governmental policies are inhumane and inconsistent with the best America has to offer. The government is often selective in what laws it will enforce and what policies it will implement. Refugee children and their families cannot and should not be made into political pawns.
The idea of using the Bible or St. Paul the Apostle to justify inhumane policies is especially cruel. Taking one part of scripture out of context can only be done by ignoring the thousands of other references to injunctions to serve the poor and care for those who have been displaced by war, environmental degradation or other abuses of power in their home countries. No government has absolute authority over the citizens of the world. The sacred books of humankind must not be used by expedient governmental authorities to justify their harmful and abhorrent policies and behavior. Laws must be just, and unjust laws must always be opposed and rejected. We stand with the many Faith Leaders of every stripe who have been publicly critical of these policies as they affect people of every faith tradition.
We also continue to stand against those policies which attempt to bar whole faith groups from receiving asylum at our borders, such as Muslims, the LGBTQ community and the many other people of color who have previously received Temporary Protective Status whose family’s immigration status has now been questioned despite some members of their families being citizens.
We call upon our member faith communities to educate themselves on the facts concerning immigration and political asylum, to advocate for those who are fleeing violence, and to be a voice for the voiceless. We also stand with those congregations and individuals who feel called to live out their faith by serving immigrant families through the Sanctuary movement. Together we must recapture the soul of our country as we remember the powerful words of the Bible:
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Image from Newsweek.com