Bay Area church and immigration leaders express outrage over family separation policy

Byby Amanda del Castillo KGO logo
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Bay Area church and immigration leaders express outrage over family separation policy
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Nearly 2,000 children have been split from their families under the Trump Administration's separation policy.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Nearly two-thousand children have been split from their families under the Trump Administration's separation policy. At the United States and Mexico border, children are being split from their families who are undocumented immigrants arrested at the border.

On Monday, San Jose's Bishop Patrick J. McGrath released a Pastoral letter in which he called the policy, "un-American, un-Christian and inhumane."

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Bishop McGrath added, "We cannot lose what is at the heart of this tragedy: the fact there are children and families in the cross-hairs of our government's actions and that the trauma that these children suffer will have long term effects on their spiritual, emotional and physical well-being."

Deacon Steven Herrera with the Diocese of San Jose expressed his frustration, "To use children as a pawn in a game of economics and trade policies is immoral and unethical, and it defeats what we stand for as a country."

A country that is actively prosecuting adults crossing its borders illegally. Herrera told ABC7 the practice is being felt and feared in places like Santa Teresa Catholic Church in San Jose.

"There's migrant workers and undocumented people throughout Santa Clara County, some come to this parish," Herrera said.

The deacon explained it's not just separation. He emphasized children are suffering.

However, San Francisco Republican leader, Howard Epstein said it's an unfortunate price that needs to be paid.

RELATED: DHS secretary says migrant children are being treated humanely

"It's unfortunate, but it's necessary," he said. "You have to stop the tide of people coming illegally, and if they know this is going to happen, less people will be coming."

Alex Mensing with Pueblo Sin Fronteras disagrees. He's traveled to the border and has seen the thousands of people who line up each morning, seeking asylum at the border.

He said people will find a way to come into the United States if it means safety for their children and families.

"There are people who are fleeing who were witnesses of murders," Mensing explained. "There are people who are fleeing who were victims of extreme domestic violence."

On Thursday, ABC News reported more than two dozen of the largest religious groups in the U.S. were imploring the Trump administration to change its "zero tolerance" policy.

Monday's letter from San Jose's Bishop McGrath was one of the more recent.

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"This practice is mean-spirited and betrays our nation's tradition of welcome to migrants and refugees," San Jose's Bishop McGrath wrote. "Coupled with this, the United State's Attorney General's decision to deny welcome to victims of domestic and gang violence is a further betrayal of the values that have until now characterized the immigration policy of the United States."

McGrath wrote, "The Attorney General's attempt to justify these actions by citing Saint Paul's Letter to the Romans is a final betrayal of millennia-old principles. Blind obedience to the state has never been the mark of our democracy, which has historically been characterized by civil discourse and compromise."

During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network last week, Franklin Graham, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, said the practice of separating families was "disgraceful."

The growing list of religious leaders and organizations writing letters and making statements includes several leading evangelical churches and institutions, which often align themselves with Republicans politically.

For more stories, photos, and video on immigration and immigration reform, visit this page.