In this moment of moral outcry against the separation of families at the border, we ask you, our friends and supporters, to help us spread messages that keep our moral vision on the larger goal we seek.
Faith traditions and common human values call us to honor the dignity and humanity of all people and that incarceration, detention, and policies which separate and divide families fail to honor the delicate preciousness of each human life.
Our organization sees migration as a sacred act, not one that should be prosecuted or criminalized. Migration is an act of courage and often great sacrifice for others. Too often, it involves unnecessary risk and danger and uncertainty caused by human laws. Almost always it relies on the deepest of faith in the holy and the kindness of strangers. The face of the migrant is where we as a society are invited to see the face God or the divine.
While we must indeed condemn the manufactured human rights crisis for families at the border, a cruel policy of deterrence and expansion of the deportation machine, we must also address the larger issues — the separation of families embedded in a whole set of anti-immigrant policies and the practice of detention and mass incarceration that affects many poor and families of color. We ask you to help us promote these broader messages:
- End all forms of immigration detention: this includes children, families, asylum seekers, green card holders and other non-citizens with former convictions who have served their time. There are many alternatives to detention and we as a society must commit to humane and dignified alternatives. Immigration detention, like incarceration as a whole, does not solve social problems, but causes suffering, and disintegrates families and communities. It enriches and profits private prisons and the prison industrial-security complex that have already largely controlled, disenfranchised, and criminalized Black communities.
- The separation of parents and children at the border, is just ONE example of how the many immigration practices of ICE and the administration is separating families: this includes detention of parents, the Muslim ban, cutting refugee numbers, cancellation of TPS, cancellation of DACA, changing asylum policies and deportation of anyone. Proposed immigration legislation has repeatedly included limiting legal migration numbers and threatened to eliminate family migration as a central tenet of our immigration system. Current anti-immigrant policy is anti-family, and this has become code for racism and white supremacy.
- Funding for the border wall and increased enforcement and militarization only makes migration more deadly and dangerous (in particular for women, children, LGBTQ). It makes migration extraordinarily expensive causing and makes people more vulnerable to traffickers and organized crime.
- Immigration law should serve people and the well-being and unity of families = not profit.
- Migration should be safe and de-criminalized and maintain the dignity and human rights of migrants. We must and can decriminalize the act of fleeing for one’s life, seeking family reunification, and the right to live.
- The US has the world’s largest immigration detention system which is part of the world’s largest prison system. Policies of incarceration daily harm children, separates families,and puts people in dehumanizing conditions. We call for approaches that emphasize rehabilitation and dismantling root causes versus policies which are purely punitive. We remember that we share a common humanity, even with those who have made mistakes; that they too have families and are part of our communities and worthy of opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption.
- Promote a rehabilitative and root causes approach vs. a purely punitive approach: Address the root causes of survival migration: regional inequality, militarism, discrimination, climate change, and economic and political policies which displace and impoverish. Address the root causes and conditions that bring people into contact with the criminal legal system.
- Abolish ICE: With the mistreatment of the children, we see so clearly the brutality of the immigration enforcement system. We spend $20 billion taxpayer dollars per year on this war against immigrants. Have we sanctioned this war? Why is ICE and DHS and Border Patrol operating without transparency, public accountability and oversight by anyone? We must protest the mistreatment of the children, but we must also speak out against this onslaught of racialized violence. ICE must be abolished.
- Let’s find another way: Detention and mass incarceration is inhumane, separates families and doesn’t have to be the way we solve problems. We can find another way. So join us in creating and demanding a different way.