In the Diocese of Oregon we are far away from our southern border and yet, through the media and even at some of our local federal prisons, we are offered a view of what is happening to families and especially to children.
It is unsettling to see large detention centers, wire rooms and groups of children massed together.
It is troubling to hear of the separating of parents and children and it should outrage Christians of all denominations to know that this is done as a matter of public policy.
Speaking out and acting in ways that make our views known to the government and to the world is, I believe, a Christian imperative. Please consider letting your voice be heard this day. Below I offer a few ideas and welcome yours as well. Our faith demands our action.
Five Ways for People of Faith to Take Action
(1) Call Members of Congress: Tell Congress to Stop Separating Families & Protect Family Unity: Click here to be connected to your 2 Senators and 1 Representative.
Here’s an example of what to say: “I’m your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and [as a person of faith], I urge you to support policies that protect and unite immigrant and refugee families. The administration is detaining and prosecuting parents, and forcibly separating them from their children. I call on you to do everything in your power to stop family separation and reject anti-immigrant, anti-family legislation like H.R.4760, the Securing America’s Future Act; the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act; or any other proposal that violates the sanctity of family unity. These bills drastically cut legal immigration, eliminate green cards for family reunification, increase detention and deportation, reduce access to asylum, and put more children and asylum seekers in jail or return them to deadly situations. These bills do not offer a workable path to citizenship for Dreamers already living among us. Children and young people should not be used as bargaining chips to advance harmful immigration proposals. A closed-door, enforcement-only immigration policy is not the solution our nation needs. Congress should cut funding for ICE and CBP that fuels family separation. I value the sanctity of the family and believe Congress should act to bring families together, not keep them apart.”
(2) Plan a Neighbor-to-Neighbor Visit to Your In-District Member Offices: Your Members of Congress will be home from June 30th – July 8th – an important time to share the importance of protecting family unity. Establishing and nurturing relationships with your Senators and Representatives are crucial to enacting immigration policies that protect and affirm the rights of all people, and also to stopping proposals that would exacerbate family separation. Every Senator and Representative has an office – often multiple offices – in their home state. Use the Interfaith Immigration Coalition Neighbor to Neighbor Toolkit to request meetings and put together a team. Here are some guidelines:
- Get a team together: A team ideally includes faith leaders from different traditions, people whose lives have been directly impacted by the immigration system, people who volunteer or work teaching English, etc.
- Learn about who represents your community in Congress: Go to house.gov and www.senate.gov to find out which Members of Congress represent you and your surrounding community.
- Have a plan: Meet with the other participants to assign roles, including the facilitator, the personal story, specific points, and the “ask.”
- Schedule a meeting: Call your Member’s local office to request a meeting (local office numbers can be found on their websites). Make sure to tell them how many other faith leaders and community members would like to attend. If the member is unavailable, ask to meet with staff who work on immigration issues. You may have to send an email or fill out a form. Don’t be discouraged if you need to follow-up for a response.
- Talking points and leave behinds: Click here for talking points as well as handouts to take to congressional meetings.
(3) Join and support Mass Mobilization Events:
- Mourn, Pray, Love and Take Action! June 20, 6:00 p.m., Portland
- Vigil for Family Unity: June 21 (in Washington, DC with an interactive virtual vigil from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.)
- Faith Leader Press Conference on Sheridan & Family Separation: June 21, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m., Portland
- Families Belong Together currently has marches planned for June 30 in the following Oregon cities (with more to come): Albany, Astoria, Bend, Coos Bay, Eugene, Medford, Portland, Redmond, Roseburg
(4) Amplify on Social Media: Don’t forget to share the same message with your Senators & Representatives on social meedia. Here are sample social media posts and graphics for public use. Use the hashtag #FamiliesBelongTogether #KeepFamiliesTogether and #ValueOurFamilies.
Here’s a sample post: Everyone knows that taking children away from their parents is wrong. #FamiliesBelongTogether and should never be separated. Trump and Congress have the power to stop the separation of families. Tell them to #EndFamilySeparation #KeepFamiliesTogether and to #ValueOurFamilies.
(5) Stay informed about immigration policies, procedures, and laws:
- The Episcopal Public Policy Network offers explanatory videos, webinars, and action points
- Slate has a list of verified organizations and opportunities for lawyers, translators, donations, and protests
- Interfaith Toolkit to End Family Separation and Keep Families Together provides background information and a helpful FAQ, statements from nationwide faith leaders, and more action points