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Child Detention: What Can We do?
On June 6, 2019, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and other faith leaders issued a statement on children in detention:
Our houses of worship and agencies have welcomed, engaged and served many migrant families that have recently arrived in the U.S. These migrants have left their communities to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Sadly, as a nation we have denied them safety, instead placing them in detention facilities, sometimes long after the mandated 72-hour limit. Many detention centers are overcrowded and lack sanitation, further elevating the risk of serious health issues for migrants already stressed and weakened by their journeys.
We believe our nation and its leaders have both the moral and legal responsibility on behalf of those who seek safety in our land.” (Read full statement)
In the weeks following Bishop Eaton’s statement, many more stories have emerged about this ongoing humanitarian crisis. As awful details about the conditions in detention centers have filtered into public consciousness, many people of faith are rightly filled with sadness and anger, as well as a determination to take action. Just as God has shown grace and mercy to God’s people, we also seek to reflect that grace and mercy into the world, reaching out with hope to those suffering in our midst. Below are several ways in which you can respond in faith to this crisis:
1) Our border and immigration ministries are continuing to offer temporary hospitality to families released from detention. Support the on-going work of Border ServantCorps, Peace Las Cruces, Trinity Las Cruces, Cristo Rey El Paso, and LutheranFamily Services Rocky Mountains through financial gifts. Volunteer through Border Servant Corps.
2) Follow ELCA AMMPARO, ELCA Advocacy, and Lutheran Immigration andRefugee Service on social media for updates and action alerts. Respond to action alerts and share in your networks.
3) Contact your elected officials in Congress and ask them to end child detention by exercising legal oversight. https://www.usa.
4) Know Your Rights. Learn what rights you have when you interact with immigration agents or the police. Share and post this information openly in your buildings.
5) Connect with organizations in your community supporting immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers such as the New Mexico Faith Coalitionfor Immigrant Justice, Annunciation House El Paso, Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, and the American Friends Service Committee
"Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs" (Matthew 19:14).
God of love, we give thanks for the people and communities opening their doors to welcome refugees and asylum seekers. Sustain them in their work. God of comfort be present to the children living in detention centers crying out for justice. Let them know your peace. Stir up compassion in the employees and administrators in charge of their care.God of mercy, help us find the courage and compassion to end child detention and bring about a system rooted in your love for all humanity.We offer prayers that come in the form of tears, with sighs too deep for words, Amen
Maud’s Café is a newly-built coffee shop that will offer an 8-12 week employment training program for the youth from Volunteers of America, Utah’s Homeless Youth Resource Center, Young Men’s and Women’s Transition Homes. Patrons of Maud’s will be supporting the Wasatch Front economy by purchasing quality, locally-produced goods. Join us in giving homeless youth the opportunity to contribute to our community, as they stabilize their lives and work toward self-sufficiency.
We as the Rocky Mountain Synod, ELCA invite all into the fullness of God’s love. This invitation is inclusive of people of every race, national origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, physical or mental ability, sex, or station in life. We pledge to use our differences as gifts for our work together.