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:
Temporary Protected Status, or “TPS” should be granted to persons from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. This will give them a year and a half of legal status. After that, the dangers in their countries can be reconsidered annually. Once deemed safe, the refugees return to their homes. Meanwhile, the current burden on our courts and Border Patrol facilities is greatly alleviated, and the refugees can work and properly care for themselves.
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.
Religious, human rights and civic groups must be allowed access to the U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities and 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. It is inexcusable to send back children to dangerous homelands from which they bravely escaped.
We must welcome our brothers and sisters.
- Bishop Bob Hoshibata, Desert SW Conference, United Methodist Church, Phoenix
- Bishop Kirk Stevan Smith, The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, Phoenix
- Bishop Stephen S. Talmage, Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical LutheranChurch of America, Phoenix
- Fr. Edgar Lopez, St. Cyril of Alexandria Catholic, Tucson
- Fr. Juan Carlos Aguirre, San Martin de Porres Catholic, Sahuarita
- Fr. Richard Aguilar, St. John's Episcopal, Bisbee
- Fr. Ronald Oakham, St. Cyril of Alexandria Catholic, Tucson
- Fr. Sean Carroll, Director, Kino Border Initiative, Nogales
- Fr. Thomas Olickal, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic, Tucson
- Fr. Thomas Tureman, Most Holy Trinity Catholic, Tucson
- Fr. Vili Valderrama, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic, Tucson
- Rev. Alan Breckinridge, St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal, Tucson
- Rev. Beth Rambikur, First United Methodist, Tucson
- Rev. Bob Holiday, St.James United Methodist, Tucson
- Rev. Clare Sullivan, Patagonia United Methodist, Patagonia
- Rev. David Wilkinson, United Methodist, Retired
- Rev. Delle McCormick, Rincon Congregational UCC, Tucson
- Rev. Ed Denham, Desert Skies UMC, Tucson
- Rev. Elwood McDowell, Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, Tucson
- Rev. Ernie Galaz, St. Andrew’s Episcopal, Nogales
- Rev. Glen R. Murray, United Methodist, Retired
- Rev. Jean Rogers, St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal, Tucson
- Rev. Jim Dew, Santa Cruz Lutheran, Tucson
- Rev. John Kitagawa, St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal, Tucson
- Rev. Kirk Reed, United Methodist, Retired
- Rev. Leah Sandwell-Weiss, St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal,Tucson
- Rev. Lee Milligan, United Church of Christ, Tucson
- Rev. Linda Hutson, Grace-St. Paul Episcopal, Tucson
- Rev. Nancy Meister, Grace-St. Paul Episcopal, Tucson,
- Rev. Paul Buckwalter, St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal, Tucson
- Rev. Randy J. Mayer, Good Shepherd UCC, Sahuarita
- Rev. Ron Phares, MountainView Unitarian Universalist, Oro Valley
- Rev. Sherry Brady, First United Methodist, Tucson
- Rev. Stephen A. Springer, Dove of Peace ELCA, Tucson
- Rev. Steve Keplinger, Grace-St. Paul Episcopal, Tucson
- Rev. Tracy Hughes, Rincon Congregational UCC, Tucson
- Dcn. Mark Cesnik, Corpus Christi Catholic, Tucson
- Deaconess Marjorie Hrabe, St. Mark’s United Methodist, Oro Valley
- Sr. Christine Garcia, Immaculate Conception Catholic, Douglas
- Sr. Jean Mariani, Santa Catalina Catholic, Catalina