Faith leaders call for humane treatment of immigrants

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From the Baptist Standard: EL PASO—Theologians, clergy and community organizers from across the country met at the border between Sunland Park, N.M., and Juarez, Mexico, to urge a more humane U.S. response to immigrants.

The El Grito de las Fronteras (Cry from the Border) event in the El Paso area included a prayer vigil, rally and educational sessions in which interfaith leaders formed a theological, political and ethical critique of the immigration crisis. They insisted the way immigrants are treated by the United States does not match the message of their faiths.

Seminary professors from a Baptist heritage who participated included Miguel De La Torre, professor of social ethics and Latinx studies at Iliff School of Theology, and Bill Walker, assistant director of spiritual formation at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary.

The immigration crisis has brought some Christians in the United States to hold opposing views in terms of whether to follow U.S. law or the commandments seen in Scriptures, participants noted.

Biblical mandate to care for neighbors

Representatives from varied Christian denominations—along with Jewish and Muslim faith leaders—insisted God called his people to welcome and care for their neighbors. But faith leaders at the event said the border wall and the security used to protect it are signs of U.S. leaders’ refusal to respond to that call.

“The biblical mandate to care for the foreigner and the migrant is abundantly clear,” Walker said. “Regardless of what one thinks about immigration in this country, there is no question about our obligation to demand humane treatment of these individuals and families.”

If this is the way the nation responds to immigration, people of faith need to speak up, De La Torre said.

“We cannot remain silent while every four days five brown bodies die in the desert,” he said. “If people of faith cannot stand in solidarity with those who are being crushed under these unjust immigration laws, then we are not people of faith.”

During the last presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump proposed a hard line on border security, referring to undocumented immigrants as criminals and abusers of social welfare.

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Written by Isa Torres for the Texas Baptist Standard on Sep. 12, 2018

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