The first amendment of the Constitution of the United States maintains that there is a separation between church and state; however, it is not uncommon to hear elected officials quote scripture from the bible or to see clergy and lay people support a political candidate for a local, state or national office. Recently, I heard a public figure, Attorney General Jefferson Sessions, quote a passage of scripture to provide moral justification for a policy that is antithetical to the Christian message. In an attempt to justify his support of President Trump’s “Zero Tolerance Policy” concerning immigration, Mr. Sessions stated that God expects hard-working, suffering, traumatized, impoverished, disenfranchised, afraid, confused and possibly injured men, women and/or children seeking safety in the United States to obey “the law” as stated in Romans 13. In many instances, these families are requesting asylum in the United States to escape the violence in their countries. As these poor and vulnerable families seeking a better way of life cross into the United States, children are forcibly taken away from their parents and both parties are taken to two different locations. Contact between children and parents comes to an abrupt halt, and it is unclear when the families will be reunited. There are also news reports from the major networks which suggest that the parents may be deported without their children.
There is no question that the United Stated is in need of immigration reform; however, a policy which is designed to deter immigration to the United States by creating traumatized children and parents is both morally reprehensible and inhumane. I am the parent of three children, and I cannot imagine the shock and horror of being indefinitely separated from them, without the ability to contact them, in a foreign country. The normative, Judeo-Christian ethic that emanates from the New Testament as it concerns the life of Jesus is undeniably about love. We should show love toward God, our neighbors, ourselves (see Mark 12:30-31) and even our enemies (Matthew 5:43). Creating a family crisis and inflecting trauma is not showing love. When the highest ranking law enforcement official uses the bible to justify the inhumane treatment of families seeking refuge in the United States, the country has indeed lost its moral compass. A nation which enjoys its current status because of immigrant labor and claims to be built upon Christian principles has lost its moral credibility as a beacon light of hope, freedom and safely for people throughout the world.
The current administration’s policy position on immigration is sure to indicate that America was on the wrong side of history. We must vote in the upcoming elections to attempt to addresses this egregious error in national judgment.