Let’s first consider the facts: In recent weeks officials in the United States have separated more than 2,000 children from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border.
There is no federal law that requires that children and parents be separated unless the parents are criminally prosecuted. Until recently, most of those apprehended while crossing the border for the first time without proper documentation were charged with a misdemeanor offense – legally about the equivalent of a speeding ticket, and not a compelling basis for imprisoning the parents and putting the children in government custody.
It is not illegal for people to seek asylum in the U.S.
There is no evidence that children are being used as a means through which criminals are entering the U.S.
Yes, in the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul states that “whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed …” but eight verses later he also says, “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
And, if you’re going to quote the Bible, go to the ultimate authority on its Christian message, who said, “Suffer little children …” (MT 19:14)
With these facts firmly in mind, let’s consider what would impel parents to take their children, usually with few or no resources, on a perilous journey of thousands of miles across foreign countries. The overwhelming reason, if you read the stories these parents tell, is that they face devastating violence and fear of death in their home countries. They want what every parent wants for their children: a better life.
Now let us move onto opinions. Numerous Catholic bishops across the U.S. have spoken out against about the Trump administration’s policy of separating parents and children. Bishop Oscar A. Solis’ statement is printed in full on this page. According to Catholic News Service, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio tweeted, “Refugee children belong to their parents, not to the government or other institution. To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral [and] evil.”
The bishops have addressed numerous aspects of the issue. Responding to a statement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said that if people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them to the border while seeking asylum, CNS reports that Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, said, “Children are not instruments of deterrence, they are children.”
The United States of America prides itself on being the land of the free and home of the brave. Americans also proclaim that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness belongs to every person, not just those who by accident of birth happen to be citizens of this great country. But there is nothing brave about using children as political pawns, and we cannot claim to be brothers and sisters in Christ if we do not welcome the stranger and protest unjust laws.
Our faith demands that we not only pray but act. One course of action is to contact your elected representative and ask them to oppose the policy of separating children from their parents. Their contact information follows.
Sen. Orrin Hatch – 202-224-5251 or www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-orrin
Sen. Mike Lee – 202-224-5444 or https://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact
Rep. Rob Bishop – 202-225-0453 or www.robbishop.house.gov/contact/zipauth.htm
Rep. Chris Stewart – 202-225-9730 or www.stewart.house.gov/contact/email-me
Rep. Mia Love – 202-225-3011 or www.love.house.gov/email-me
Marie Mischel is editor of the Intermountain Catholic.