Except for the child’s own safety, the forced separation of children from their parents is never acceptable. I can scarcely believe this needs to be said.
Great damage has been done, and the urgent next step must be to reunite the devastated families. I say this as a person of faith, a citizen of this country, a mother, and one who was brought to the US at the age of the children now being housed in “tender age” shelters. Why are we not treating tenderly those who are of tender age?
Adding to this national pain is the government’s use of scripture to justify such cruelty. Surely there is weeping from the God whom many call Father, the one who calls us children. When Jesus healed on the sabbath, he made it clear that people are more important than the law (Matthew 12:9-13). Another day, Jesus brought over a child and said, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5).
Care for the stranger and sojourner is deeply and undeniably woven into the biblical text. That is evidence that the Scriptures are best used to defend rather than abuse those who flee violence and hardship.
But at this moment, I am drawn even more to texts that speak of God’s special care for children and families. During Pharaoh’s regime, God acted through a sister, two midwives, and Pharaoh’s own daughter to save the infant Moses and allow him to be nursed by his mother (Exodus 2). Job laments that “the wicked snatch a widow’s child from her breast” (Job 24:9 NLT). When Herod wanted to destroy young Jesus, God led Joseph to escape with his family across the border to Egypt (Matthew 2).
The Church of the Brethren has long spoken and acted on matters of immigration and the plight of refugees. In this time of crisis, let us recall words from an Annual Conference statement in 1982: “Christ has made another appearance among us, as himself an immigrant and refugee, in the person of political dissidents, the economically deprived, and foreigners on the run.”
Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press and Communications for the Church of the Brethren.