Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele is recommending to the Church of the Brethren a blogpost from Office of Peacebuilding and Policy associate Victoria Bateman. The post, dated Friday, June 15, reaffirms the longstanding stance of the Church of the Brethren on immigration, outlined in 1982 Annual Conference statement on “Undocumented Persons and Refugees in the United States” ( www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1982refugees.html ), and the biblical basis for extending welcome to refugees and immigrants.
Following is the full text of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy post (also online at http://blog.brethren.org/2018/welcoming-the-stranger-a-call-for-just-immigration-reform ):
“The Church of the Brethren has long acknowledged the Bible’s call for justice in immigration policy. Matthew 25:35 says, ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me,’ reminding us that our response to ‘the least of these’ is just as important as the manner in which we would choose to treat Christ. As people of faith, it is essential that we respond to God’s call to welcome strangers, extend hospitality, and recognize the inherent dignity of each human being.
“Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible in an attempt to justify the separation of children from their parents at the border as they flee violence, poverty, and oppression in their home countries. Once separated from their parents, these children are held in detention centers. Over 500 children have been detained under this policy, putting them at risk for emotional trauma and abuse.
“This past spring, the world watched as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was rescinded, leaving hundreds of thousands of students and community members not knowing the future of their immigration status--despite having grown up in the United States. Erick, a Church of the Brethren member, shared his own story with us here: http://blog.brethren.org/2017/daca-story-erick .
“Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs, which gave legal residence to people from nations facing violence or natural disaster, have also been cut. Some TPS holders have been in the country for decades, starting families and businesses, and will be forced to return to their original country if a pathway to citizenship is not created. The Haitian Church of the Brethren in Miami, Florida has been impacted by these policies, and you can read about the March for TPS they held here: http://blog.brethren.org/2018/reflections-on-the-march-for-tps .
“The uncertainty, fear, and danger faced by immigrants impacted by these broken US immigration policies is not acceptable. Our 1982 Annual Conference statement on ‘Undocumented Persons and Refugees in the United States’ ( www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1982refugees.html ) calls for the United States government to adopt legislation and policies ‘which welcome and promote the welfare of immigrants and refugees,’ and ‘to bring about a general amnesty for those people who once entered the United States as “undocumented aliens” but have settled peacefully among their neighbors.’
“As people of faith, we urge the United States government to fix its broken immigration system. US policies must be compassionate and just, and recognize the importance of strong families and communities. The Bible condemns those who exploit immigrants (Ezekiel 22:7), and instead calls for us to love those who are foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19). Immigrants continue to make valuable contributions to the country, and each human being who enters the United States deserves to be treated with compassion.”
-- Find out more about the ministry of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy at www.brethren.org/peacebuilding .