Today evangelical leaders sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern over the new "zero tolerance" policy at the U.S.-Mexico border that is dividing children from their parents.
The new policy, announced recently by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, already has separated hundreds of families, including those who are seeking asylum in the United States. In their letter, evangelical leaders urge the president to work with the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider this "zero tolerance" policy and to provide due process to people seeking asylum.
Signatories also urge the president to work with the U.S. State Department to resume a robust U.S. refugee resettlement program, which in the past has allowed those with a credible fear of persecution to apply for refugee status abroad and enter lawfully, after a thorough vetting process, without making a dangerous trip to the U.S. border to request asylum.
"As evangelical Christians guided by the Bible, one of our core convictions is that God has established the family as the fundamental building block of society. The state should separate families only in the rarest of instances," the letter states.
The Evangelical Immigration Table also opened up the letter today for local pastors and other evangelical leaders to add their names. If you are an evangelical leader, you can add your name here.
The following are quotes today from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders who signed the letter:
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
"The Bible says that families came first and government later. Let's not buck the Bible by separating families."
Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
"I'm deeply troubled that as families fleeing persecution reach our border, children are being separated from their parents. I know that President Trump doesn't want to separate families, either, and I pray he'll do all he can to reverse these policies as well as to ensure that the U.S. refugee resettlement program continues to allow vulnerable, persecuted families to be carefully vetted abroad and then rebuild their lives in the U.S. without needing to make a dangerous journey to our border."
Hyepin Im, President and CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
"We as a nation are still bearing the pains and consequences of broken families as a result of war, slavery, divorce, immigration policies and other matters. It is tragic to inflict unnecessary pain by separating children from parents because of manmade rules ... I pray that God will give wisdom to President Trump and our nation's leaders to create the right policies that do not repeat the mistakes of the past but can protect our nation while leaving room to address and respond to humanitarian needs."
Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
"Americans are divided politically, but this issue is beyond politics. Any of us can imagine the terror that strikes a child separated from her mother or father, and the despair of a mother whose child has been taken from her. It's vital that we respect our country's longstanding asylum laws, that we do all we can to keep families together, and that we resume our history of welcoming refugees."
Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
"As Christians who care deeply about protecting families and children, we reject the idea that separating children from parents is a sensible component of any immigration policy. As Christians, we affirm both the rule of law and compassion for the vulnerable. Splitting up families is not in the best interests of the United States. American policy, even immigration policy, should promote the flourishing of families."
Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
"President Trump is a father and a grandfather, and I know he cares about families, including immigrant families. He also rightly cares about securing our borders. I believe he can find ways to both keep immigrant families together and protect American families from those who would do harm, and many Hispanic evangelicals are praying for him as he addresses these vital policy decisions."
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