I know many at First Parish are heartbroken by the news of migrant families being separated at our nation’s southern border — undocumented parents being taken into custody under excessive criminal charges, and their children sent to warehouse-like facilities and foster care. Nearly 2,000 children were removed from their parents in a six-week period beginning in April. Sometimes, neither parents nor children know where the rest of their family members have been taken. (And, tragically, this is not the first time in our nation’s history that “family separation” has been practiced— black slave parents and indigenous American parents frequently had their children stolen from them.)
The Boston Globe, other news organizations, and advocacy groups have been sounding the alarm and educating the public about this issue. Our national Unitarian Universalist Associationand Unitarian Universalist Service Committeehave strongly condemned this cruel practice at the border. Our faith teaches us that every person has inherent worth and dignity, and that migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees should be treated with neighborly care and compassion. Though some have misused select passages from the Bible to support following unjust laws, we as Unitarian Universalists know that the Bible’s central messages are of liberation, hospitality, and the creation of heaven on earth between all living beings. As was written in the Book of Exodus, chapter 22, “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Indeed, migration is part of the universal human story, and immigration should not be treated so criminally.
Though we are geographically far away from where this atrocity is taking place, we can still support migrant families by contributing to the fight to end family separation. Slatehas an incredibly comprehensive list of organizationsthat are providing on-the-ground support and legal advocacy to migrant families. Both Kids In Need of Defense (KIND)and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)provide sample messages for concerned citizens to leave for their elected officials. Many advocacy groups in Massachusetts, including our denomination’s UU Mass Action, are organizing rallies and vigils to support migrant families and immigration reform issues more broadly. Of course, you can contact members of our congregation’s Immigrant Ministry team about getting involved in local sanctuary service, as that ministry also keeps immigrant families together. I encourage all of us, as part of a committed and partnered Level 2 Sanctuary Supporting Congregation, to do what we can to help these children reunite with their parents and start a new life of safety and justice. May our actions align with our highest values, and leave a legacy of love and justice in our country!