Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. (Zechariah 7:10)
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. decries the executive actions on immigration enforcement taken Jan. 25 by President Donald Trump as well as actions on refugee resettlement expected later this week. These actions portray immigrants and refugees as criminals and threats rather than seeing them as God’s beloved children.
In our society, rejection of the immigrant — “the other” — still runs deep, whether due to fear, ignorance, racism or selfishness. By building walls and turning away refugees, we ignore Christ’s call to care for those in need and to love the stranger among us as we love ourselves.
Building border walls focuses on the symptoms rather than the causes of migration. As long as poverty, lack of opportunity and violent conflict push people to come to the U.S. — and, as long as opportunities, safety and family members pull people here — there will be migration. When the legal routes are either not available or severely restricted, as they are in the U.S., people will come whatever way they can. And no wall will stop them.
The increased enforcement measures called for in these executive actions — including more for-profit detention facilities, the return of the controversial Secure Communities program, and thousands more immigration enforcement officers — will lead to more racial profiling, more family separations and needless suffering.
The executive actions punishing so-called “sanctuary cities” will not make our communities more safe. On the contrary, numerous cities have sanctuary policies precisely because law enforcement officials understand that mixing local policing and immigrant enforcement makes communities less safe by causing immigrants to fear reporting crimes to police.
President Trump’s proposed actions on refugees would restrict the entry of people from particular countries and essentially freeze the federal refugee resettlement program. As Anabaptist Christians, we have long held that governments must protect the religious freedom of all people, not just Christians. We strongly oppose any discrimination against refugees, including discrimination based on religion or nationality. Our nation must keep its doors open to all people who are in need and face persecution.
MCC will continue to provide much-needed immigration services such as legal documentation, support for families seeking asylum, and “know-your-rights” education. We will persist in our advocacy for fair and compassionate immigration policies consistent with our values and with God’s teachings.
We encourage you to consider new ways you can welcome immigrants and refugees as neighbors in your community, and to make your voice heard on these important issues by contacting the White House and your members of Congress. Thank you for joining us in response to Christ’s welcoming call.
J Ron Byler is executive director of Mennonite Central Committee U.S.