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A statement on the current immigration policy of separating children from parents

The Coalition of Religious Leaders of New Jersey

Bishop Mark Beckwith is president of the Coalition of Religious Leaders of New Jersey.

The Coalition of Religious Leaders here in New Jersey expresses our deep concern and opposition over the immigration policies that are being implemented by the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and affirmed by President Donald Trump. These policies negate the very core values of the faith traditions which we represent.

The present policy has impacted over two thousand children in the past six weeks, children of immigrant parents seeking safety and security for their families. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of the children and their parents. These children have been taken away from their parents, their sole sense of security, with no understanding of just what happened to them, or if they will ever see their family again. These children are put into the care of the office of Refugee Resettlement and processed as “unaccompanied.” These children are thrust into a detention center, often without an advocate or an attorney, and in some cases the presence of any adult who can speak their language. It can take weeks before a parent knows the whereabouts of their child. This unprecedented policy traumatizes the child and the parent.

The Trump administration implemented these policies. The Administration has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. This policy grows out of the Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that takes children from their parents as they seek to cross the border.

As Religious Leaders we deeply lament the pain and fear placed upon members of the human family. Our sacred texts underscore that we have compassion and justice for all members of the human family. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. As persons of faith we oppose this cruel enforcement policy that forcibly separates children from their families.

We call upon members of our New Jersey Congressional Delegation, our Governor, and our State Legislators to express their deep concern and opposition to these policies. Our concern is exemplified in our best ideals and beliefs. It is a protest against the hardening of the American heart.

Rev. Darrell Armstrong, General Baptist Convention of New Jersey

V. Rev. Peter A. Baktis, Orthodox Church of America

Bishop Tracie Bartholomew, N.J. Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Imam Qareeb Bashir, Islamic Council of Greater Trenton

Bishop Mark Beckwith, Episcopal Diocese of Newark

Rev. Charles Boyer, pastor, Bethel AME Church of Woodbury

Deacon Patrick Brannigan, N.J. Catholic Conference

Rev. Dr. Debra Brincivalli, Presbytery executive, West Jersey Presbytery

M. Ali Chaudry, Ph.D., Islamic Society of Basking Ridge

Rev. Angelita Clifton, president of N.J. Council of Churches

Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, Reform Church of America, Synod of New Jersey

Joan M. Diefenbach, Esq., director, N.J. Council of Churches

Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz, Congregation B'nai Jeshurun

Rev. Rob Gregson, executive director Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ

Rev. Jack Johnson, coordinator, Coalition of Religious Leaders

Father Joe Kwiatkowski, Office of Social Concerns, Newark Archdiocese

Rev. Sara Lilja, director of Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministries

Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, general secretary emeritus, American Baptist Churches, USA

Rev. David Popham, associate conference minister, Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ

Rev. Jeanne Radak, Presbytery leader, Newton Presbytery

Reverend Marianne Rhebergen, Presbytery of Palisades

Bishop John Schol, Greater NJ Conference of the United Methodist Church

Imam W. Deen Shareef, convener of the Council of Imams in NJ.  Resident Imam at Masjid Waarith ud Deen at Waris C.R.D.C.

Rabbi Alan Silverstein, Congregation Agudath Israel

Rev. Barbara Smith, executive Presbyter, Newark Presbytery

Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer, executive minister, American Baptist Churches

Bishop William Stokes, Episcopal Diocese of NJ

Dr. Lester Taylor, Jr., preesident General Baptist Convention

Rev. Dr. Robert Wade, presiding elder of Camden-Trenton District AME

Rabbi Gerald Zelizer, Temple Neve Shalom