Evangelical Leaders Urge Trump and Congress to Change Detention Conditions for Migrant Children

 In Press Releases

June 27, 2019

The letter expresses concerns about children, families’ well-being

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As reports mount of worsening conditions for migrant children in U.S. custody, evangelical leaders sent a letter today to the president, vice president and congressional leaders, urging them to address the situation.

“As evangelical Christians, we believe that all people — regardless of their country of origin or legal status — are made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect,” they write. “Overcrowded and unsanitary conditions are inappropriate for anyone in detention, but particularly for children, who are uniquely vulnerable. Jesus reserves some of his strongest words of judgment for those who subject children to harm.”

Speakers on a press call today (recording here) discussed the treatment of migrant children in U.S. custody — following their recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border — and urged Congress and the Trump administration to act.

The Table is encouraging other evangelical Christians to add their names to the letter, which they can do here.

The following are quotes from evangelical leaders who signed the letter:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“We learned a lot at the border and in El Paso. I was particularly touched by stories… Border Patrol agents have a system that is set up to deal with young men, but that’s not who is coming across the border — increasingly it’s families that they don’t have the system to hold. This letter pleads with elected officials to step up and find a bipartisan solution to this tragic situation.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Last weekend, in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, I interacted with families who had recently been released from detention facilities. Their faces and their stories — people of deep faith trusting God would rescue them from situations of violence and extreme poverty — were fresh in my mind when I saw the arresting image of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, the Salvadoran father being gripped by his young daughter in his final moments. I wince and, if I’m honest, want to look away. But the Scriptures implore us not to ‘turn away from your own flesh and blood.’ Now is a moment for the Church to respond with courage and compassion for the children and families seeking refuge at our borders. May we not look away.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“The image of a father and daughter lifeless on the shore of our country, following detailed reports of children held in inadequate facilities along the border, have awoken the consciences of many Americans, and especially of many Christians who know our Savior was a child migrant who fled persecution. May we respond to each of these little ones as we would to Jesus Himself.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“The ill treatment of children seeking refuge at our borders is not good for the children, nor for our country or for the administration.  We ask that President Trump not withhold doing good while he has the power to do so. Our laws should be followed. We pray for wisdom for the president and the administration in their responsibility to administer justice and do good.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“The conditions in which our government has been holding children are absolutely unacceptable. Americans and even evangelical Christians are divided over many issues right now, but I hope we can all agree that children should never be subjected to unsafe and unsanitary situations. We need both Congress and the White House to act on an urgent, bipartisan basis.”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“As Christians, Jesus calls us to respond to the cries of those in need around us. The conditions at the border ought to prompt all of us to remember that these migrant children are not a mere problem to be solved. They bear the image of God, and are endowed by him with dignity and worth. Jesus loves them, and so should we. The problems at the border will require complex solutions and long-term strategies by our government—both Congress and the administration coming together. In the meantime, we should do everything we can do to help alleviate the suffering of those who are attempting to flee violence in their home countries.”

Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“Inspired by God’s love for all of His children, we at Bethany are committed to serving those whose search for safety has brought them to our border. The inhumane conditions experienced by unaccompanied children in detention along the border are heartbreaking and unacceptable. As our government seeks to provide solutions to this humanitarian crisis, we strongly encourage adequate funding for the proper care of children and reforms that protect their health and well-being. Our country has always prioritized the safety and needs of innocent children; they are not the cause of this problem and they shouldn’t be pawns of a broken system. As Christ followers, let’s view this crisis through the eyes of our neighbors – the children who are seeking refuge from violence, persecution, and starvation. We should take Jesus’s words seriously and be great at the Great Commandment – Loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind and showing that we love God by loving our neighbor.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“The brave men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol are working tirelessly to protect our country and, in the midst of an unprecedented number of families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum, provide care for the vulnerable. But this truly is a crisis, and the funds appropriated by Congress have been exhausted, forcing a tragic situation. It’s urgent that Congress work with the president to distribute the necessary resources so that children are not subjected to inhumane conditions, our borders are secured and the law is respected.”

Edgar Sandoval, President, World Vision:
“World Vision believes that all children are made in the image of God and are deserving of dignity, respect and compassion. Children seeking refuge from violence and poverty, now separated from their families in U.S. government facilities, are among the most vulnerable. I urge Congress and the administration to act immediately to ensure the well-being of these vulnerable children. It is our moral and legal obligation to protect and care for them, and our policy and practice must reflect that reality.”


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