Letter to the Editor,
Faith leaders denounce family detention
On March 26 a letter was sent to the President signed by 80 faith leaders representing churches, synagogues, and faith-based organizations in the U.S. detailing their concerns about family detention centers in this country housing Central American women and children and calling for other alternatives to family detention.
The letter was signed by high ranking members of the clergy including: U.S. Catholic Bishops, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, National Hispanic Evangelical Coalition, Jewish Leaders, Christian Reformed Church North America, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, and United Church of Christ.
The letter stated, “We believe this practice to be inhumane and harmful to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of this vulnerable population.”
The letter cited a recent decision by the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., which issued an injunction halting the detention of families “concluding that a strategy of deterrence does not warrant the deprivation of individual liberty.”
The letter included studies showing the following: “a harmful psychological effect on children, in which they grow despondent, lose weight, and do not advance in their intellectual or emotional growth” and that it “undermines family bonds and parental authority.”
These detainees have already experienced the anguish of extreme violence, death threats, rape and persecution and “detention only adds to their trauma and sense of insecurity by subjecting them to possible further emotional or physical abuse.”
The faith leaders who signed the letter asked the President to “consider whether you are prepared for your legacy to include the purposeful detention of innocent mothers and babies in furthering an ineffective policy of deterrence that violates fundamental tenants of our faiths and the American ideal of providing freedom and refuge to the persecuted. The incarceration of vulnerable mothers and children fleeing violence in their home countries is a stain on the record of this Administration.”
These faith leaders stated that “a majority have valid asylum claims” and positively proclaimed “our faith communities are ready and willing to welcome and assist families seeking refuge”.
Marian Casillas, Ed.D.