|Faith groups call for end to immigration raids|
Thousands of immigrants and supporters rally on the grounds of the U.S.
Capitol in March 2006. A UMNS file photo by Rick Reinhard.
By Wayne Rhodes*
Nov. 11, 2008 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)
Two United Methodist agencies are among signers of a letter to
President Bush that calls for an end to all raids “which separate
families and create distrust and fear among all community members.”
The letter expresses concern about “the growing dependence on raids
as a primary means of dealing with our broken immigration system.” It
also calls for legal, safe and orderly avenues for workers and their
families to migrate to the United States with their rights fully
The United Methodist Board of Church and Society and the United
Methodist Commission on Religion and Race were among 24 faith
communities advocating for change. Bill Mefford, a staff executive with
Church and Society, helped draft the letter.
“The fear and terror that so many immigrant families are experiencing
because of sporadic raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement makes it important for all faith communities to stand in
incarnational solidarity with immigrants and to loudly proclaim our
opposition to this policy,” Mefford explained. “Raids must end now.”
Dated Oct. 27, the letter notes that faith communities “have
witnessed the devastation” of such raids and “have been first to respond
to the needs created by the sudden removal of parents from their
children, who are often U.S. citizens.
“The raids have created undue hardship on immigrant families and the
communities of faith who are unfailingly responding to the many needs of
immigrants, their families, and our communities, whose resources are
now being challenged to meet these needs.”
Raids violate rights
The letter charges that raids by ICE, part of the Department of
Homeland Security, have violated basic human rights and traditions
fundamental to the United States, “such as welcoming immigrants,
protecting community members, and upholding the due process of law.”
Indiscriminate raids often result in apprehending lawful U.S.
residents, persons fleeing persecution and seeking asylum, and victims
of human trafficking. Immigrants are often interrogated without access
to legal counsel or an appropriate understanding of their rights,
according to the letter.
While violations of immigration law are civil, not criminal,
offenses, persons awaiting deportation are being held in facilities
without accountable standards of humane treatment, and without access to
medical treatment or religious services, the letter asserts.
“ICE raids tear apart families and foster a climate of fear and
distrust in local communities,” the letter states, and estimates that
five million U.S. citizen children have at least one undocumented
parent. Fear of family separation, combined with inhumane treatment and
detention, sparks distrust of public officials, decreases reports of
crime, and jeopardizes community safety.
“Raids cannot bring about much-needed reform to our broken
immigration system,” the letter states. “Effective and humane reform can
only be achieved through allowing undocumented immigrants to rectify
their status and apply to become lawful permanent residents.”
Other signers of the letter include American Friends Service
Committee; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Refugee and
Immigration Ministries; Council on American-Islamic Relations; Church
World Service; Interfaith Worker Justice; Mennonite Central Committee,
Also, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; Presbyterian Peace
Fellowship; Sikh Council on Religion and Education; Sisters of Mercy of
the Americas; Sojourners; Unitarian Universalist Association of
Congregations; and United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness
*Rhodes is the communications director for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
News media contact: Kathy Gilbert, Nashville (615) 742-5470 or Related Video
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