Southwest Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. Bill Lyons, will attend the Council of Conference Ministers Advocacy Event to advocate for no more funding for detention, deportation, and border militarization. Bill is one of three speakers for the press conference that will include foot washing ceremony.
The CCM will deliver this statement to Washington:
The United Church of Christ is an Immigrant Welcoming Church, honoring the profound struggles migrants who come to the United States face in search of security and opportunity, and celebrating the myriad contributions migrants offer to our communities.
As regional representatives of the United Church of Christ, we stand in vehement opposition to the Administration’s continued campaign to deny welcome to migrants by instituting a host of draconian practices including family separation, indefinite child detention, deplorable detention conditions, and stripping away legal access to the asylum process. These ongoing efforts to terrorize, degrade, and demonize migrants are immoral and unacceptable. With the rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric, we have seen a troubling increase in violence perpetrated against migrants. As people of faith, the coordinated diminishment of our fellow human beings - especially children - is in direct contravention with the Gospel, which teaches us to welcome the sojourner and love our neighbor.
In preparation for the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations discussions we urge your compassionate response to the following:
As Congress debates the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations legislation they must reject increased funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for immoral detention and deportation of migrants. Instead, Congress must invest in programs that serve our communities, offer true humanitarian assistance and protect human dignity.
In addition to rejecting overspending on detention, deportation, and border militarization, Congress must enact stringent oversight mechanisms on existing DHS enforcement practices. The crass overspending and harmful enforcement activities of ICE and CBP have resulted in the mass and sometimes fatal mistreatment of migrants.
Finally, Congress must invest in community-based alternatives to detention. These alternatives shift the paradigm and bias away from detention and toward non-restrictive alternatives that support individuals who are navigating the immigration and asylum systems.
The monetary cost of these programs and policies is astronomical, the human cost, incalculable. Where we put our money speaks to a larger truth about who we are as a country. The current bias toward detention and banishment and the emphasis on criminalization, deny migrants’ humanity and dignity.
In congregations and communities across the country, our churches are in solidarity with and welcoming our immigrant neighbors. Our faith community has a strong history of objecting to inhumane conditions and speaking out that all people should be treated with compassion and care.
We are bolstered by our belief that extending a welcome to migrants not only helps communities flourish but that it is living into a higher moral call. We strongly urge you to reject increases in detention, deportation and border militarization funding, commit to strong and meaningful oversight of DHS policies and practices, and earnestly seek more compassionate and humane alternatives to detention.
Request for stories
Our DC-based staff has requested stories from our Conferences that talk about the experiences of our congregations or the personal experiences of individual members with immigration and current policies. This could be stories from your Sanctuary or Sanctuary Supporting churches, or personal testimony of individuals directly impacted by our nation’s current immigration policies and practices. (Those are just two examples.) These stories will be included in packets of information the CCM leaves behind at each legislative visit, and can provide that human face to these issues that is so important. All stories should be emailed directly to Sandy Sorensen.
Letter writing campaign
Letters and pictures from children are especially encouraged! Write a letter to Congress advocating to help migrant families and to stop ICE and CBP attacks on immigrants.
Each day brings a new attack on our immigrant neighbors and the scope and breadth of these challenges can be staggering. Congregations and communities across the country are asking what can be done to help the migrant families and children being held in immigrant detention.
We see children sleeping on concrete floors, parents grieving after being cruelly separated from their children, overcrowding and lack of even basic humanitarian conditions in detention facilities. As the United Church of Christ we have declared ourselves to be an immigrant welcoming church, believing that love of our neighbor extends to welcoming each migrant— and that compassion should be at the root of how our nation treats migrants.
How we invest our money reflects our values as a nation, and right now those values are corrosive and harmful. This has got to stop. Congress should instead invest in policies that uplift family unity, address the root causes of forced migration, and prioritize human needs by respecting the rights and dignity of every person.
We actively urge congress to end family and child detention, family separation, and the funding of these immoral practices; and are asking that the United Church of Christ raise up their voices to make that happen. An important way to do that is by sending in letters to Members of Congress.
Call to Action:
Join with us to write a letter to Congress. Let them know we stand strong in our belief that extending a welcome to migrants not only helps communities flourish but that it is living into a higher moral call. UCC Conference Ministers from across the country are headed to Washington D.C. to engage in advocacy on these issues and can hand deliver your letters to the offices they meet with. This type of advocacy can be done by anyone, at any age. Letters can include drawings from children, personal stories, art and/or thoughts on what home and welcome mean.
We faithfully urge them to:
Reject increases in detention, deportation and border militarization funding Commit to strong and meaningful oversight of DHS policies and practices Earnestly seek more compassionate and humane alternatives to detention.
Sample Letter Text:
I am writing as a constituent and person of faith and am continually saddened and troubled by the administrations ongoing attacks on our immigrant neighbors. As you work on funding legislation I ask that you no longer fund the crass immigration and deportation policies being implemented now and instead invest in programs that uplift family unity, address the root causes of forced migration, and prioritize human needs by respecting the rights and dignity of every person.
All letters should be emailed directly to Sandy Sorensen.