July 27, 2015
Throughout the Bible, there are stories of families, like those of Moses and Jesus, forced to escape dangers, flee violent threats, cross borders and leave communities and loved ones in order to stay alive. This has been the experience of thousands who have come to our nation fleeing fears in their homelands of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and beyond.
Therefore, I applaud the July 24, 2015, ruling by Federal Judge Dolly Gee, joining the chorus denouncing family detention, reaffirming that migrant children must be released to foster care or relatives and placed in the least restrictive environment possible. Her ruling echoes the prophet Isaiah’s call to seek to “correct oppression” (Is. 1:17) and enables our nation to better “speak out in defense of the poor” (Prov. 31:8-9).
Family detention exacerbates the trauma families have already experienced, profits prison companies, isolates legitimate asylum seekers from services, and constrains hope that liberty might ever be found. Judge Gee’s order instructs the administration to develop a plan to release the mothers and children “without unnecessary delay.” I strongly urge the administration not to appeal Judge Gee’s decision.
As a leader of a faith community deeply committed to wholeness, I applaud our members who continue to seek to minister to those in detention through visits, sending letters and Bibles, and supporting religious services. But this is not enough. It is not illegal to seek asylum, and mothers and children should not be treated like prisoners. Around the U.S., our members have stood with faith partners in ditches outside centers to pray, have signed letters, visited legislators and White House staff, provided education, and made calls to build momentum for mercy and to say resoundingly that family detention is immoral. Our prayer is that it will end.