Rev. Catie participated in two of the (so far) six vigils to #EndFamilySeparation at the Needham Town Common. The vigils are organized by Progressive Needham and will be ongoing in September. These are her remarks from the vigil on August 15th.
Just yesterday, I read in theGlobe that the ACLU is suing the Department of Homeland Security due to a recent practice right here in Greater Boston — in a coordinated effort between ICE and our local US Citizenship and Immigration Services office, traps were set for undocumented spouses of American citizens… They’d come in for what they thought was the next step toward legal status, and instead were met by ICE and detention — and sometimes, deportation. As one ACLU attorney said, “The government can’t create this path and then arrest the people who are walking on it.”
That’s what we’ve done and are doing at the border, too. Asylum seekers — desperate to escape domestic violence, gang violence, and identity-based discrimination — come over our borders asking for help, as is allowed under both our own laws and international law. Instead, we have detained and deported them, and, in thousands of cases, stolen their children. We still have over five hundred children separated from their parents, some children lost in our foster care system and their parents already deported. We can only imagine and read about the long-term trauma and pain our country has caused these families, these babies, even if all families are soon reunified.
In the biblical Book of Leviticus, chapter 19, it reads, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself.”
Our national immigration policies and practices have never been fully welcoming of all peoples, but they have become all the more a system wide catastrophe and human rights tragedy. This we must confess and repent for as a nation.
I know all summer you compassionate and defiant people of Needham have been praying, singing, and contacting your elected officials about this tragedy. We must keep this pressure on, so that no child, no family, is forgotten. We must encourage ourselves, our family, and our neighbors to take their concerns and their dreams for our country to the ballot box this November. If the elected officials of our nation choose to be so heartless, racist, and xenophobic, we have to show them they do not represent us through our words, deeds, and votes. If we do not use our words, deeds, and votes to counteract all this cruelty, then we have chosen to accept that these policies and practices do represent us.
Does the family separation policy represent us? Does denying migrant survivors of violence asylum represent us? Does tricking, trapping, and deporting beloved spouses represent us?
Or… Does welcoming the stranger represent us? Does supporting all loving families represent us? Does valuing diversity in our community represent us?
I pray that our works embody our faith, philosophy, and values of keeping families together, welcoming immigrants, and increasing both local and global peace and prosperity. May we be blessed and be a blessing in our words and deeds. Amen.