Religious Institute Condemns Executive Orders on Refugees, Immigration, and Border Policies; Calls People of Faith to Action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Drew Konow, konow@religiousinstitute.org, 203-222-0055

January 30, 2017—On Wednesday, January 25, the president of the United States signed 2 executive orders on immigration and border policies. The orders call for the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border, adding 5,000 border patrol agents and 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to carry out deportations. The orders also call for penalizing “sanctuary cities” (which offer safe harbor to undocumented immigrants who could be deported by federal immigration officials) by taking away federal grant funding. They enact sweeping new criteria that could make many more undocumented immigrants priorities for deportation.

It is clear that President Trump intends to make good on his campaign promise of “mass deportations” of undocumented immigrants. He is also targeting legal immigration.

On Friday, the president signed an executive order that severely restricts immigration from seven Muslim majority countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely.

As an organization concerned with sexual, gender, and reproductive justice, we decry these acts of hatred and bigotry that have been disproportionately committed against people of color. We recognize that these policies are deeply rooted in racism, white supremacy, and Christian supremacy.

Our religious traditions teach us that every human being has dignity and worth. They teach us to care for those who are strangers or foreigners among us. Our religious values teach us to honor each other’s religious traditions and to protect those who seek refuge from harm. These executive orders are an affront to our religious values.

We accept our responsibility as people of faith to speak out on behalf of those families who have been and will continue to be devastated because of these evil, xenophobic policies.

In the wake of the executive orders this weekend hundreds of people were illegally detained and several people were deported from American airports. A mosque in Victoria, TX burned to the ground. Sunday night, gunmen killed six people, wounding 19, in an attack on a mosque in Quebec. Immigrant communities and families are now subjected to the ever-present fear of deportation for any or no reason.

The longer these executive orders remain in effect, the more harm will be done. Individuals and families fleeing from persecution, fear of persecution, or violence will be forced to endure life-threatening conditions. Parents will be deported or detained and separated from their children.  LGBTQ asylum seekers will not be able to leave countries where their lives are in danger because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Already, we have heard heartbreaking tales of parents traveling abroad who now cannot return home to their pregnant partners or small children. We are reminded of the horrors that forced deportations in the United States have enacted upon undocumented families through the years, resulting in traumatic separation of children from their parents and wider communities of care.

Now is the time to take action. Now is the time to speak out. Now is the time to reach out to your Muslim neighbor, your local mosque, or local Islamic Center. Now is the time to support undocumented people in your local community. Now is the time make your congregation a space of sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. Now is the time for you and your faith community to make an unwavering commitment to uniting in solidarity, protecting the vulnerable, and resisting all forms of injustice.

Click here to access a Guide for People of Faith to Resisting the Executive Order on Refugees.

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The Religious Institute (www.religiousinstitute.org) is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. More than 8,500 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars and other religious leaders representing more than 50 faith traditions are part of the Religious Institute’s national religious leaders network.

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