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Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

Grace, peace, mercy and love to you in Christ’s name!

There is a Japanese saying, “Kodomo no tame ni,” which means, “For the sake of the children.” It reminds us that much of what we do is done because we care for the generations to come. We give of ourselves so that the children of the world will inherit a safer, kinder, more loving world. This is the mindset that should determine how we deal with a very complex political matter which has deeper, spiritual implications for the future. This deep concern for the well-being of children and families led your Annual Conference to pass a resolution addressing the calling to end separation of children from families at the border. You can read the resolution here which was affirmed after meaningful conversations by a large majority of the Conference delegates and members.

Over the past days, we have learned of stories of children being detained in facilities, apart from their parents as part of the “zero tolerance” policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In addition, the protections for those seeking asylum due to domestic abuse and gang violence have been overturned.

President Trump’s Executive Order to end the separation of families is not a cause for victory or celebration, but for more vigilance, advocacy, protest and action. Although families will no longer be separated, the work to reunite them is long and arduous. And, while families who are seeking refuge in the U.S. will not be separated the “zero tolerance” policy remains in place, and families can be held together in detention indefinitely. These actions lack compassion and are contrary to our values as United Methodists and as people of faith.

The United Methodist Social Principles state our commitment to “oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or that include detention of families with children, and we call on local churches to be in ministry with immigrant families.” (Social Principles ¶162.H) They also state that “we affirm the right of women to live free from violence and abuse and urge governments to enact policies that protect women against all forms of violence.” (Social Principles ¶162.F)

The use of Christian scripture to justify policies that oppress or harm children and families is deplorable and is antithetical to the teachings of Christ. We know Jesus through Holy Scripture that teaches us and urges us to value compassion, dignity, justice and love.

Your voice is still needed. I would like to share with you some ways that you can take action.

Call your Members of Congress: Tell congress to stop separating families and protect family unity!
Click here to be connected to your 2 Senators and 1 Representative and urge them to support policies that protect and unite immigrant and refugee families. Call on them to stop family separation and reject anti-immigrant, anti-family legislation. Children and young people should not be used as bargaining chips to advance harmful immigration proposals. Encourage them to support efforts to defund family separation in the appropriations context and support decreases in funding for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices within the Department of Justice.

Plan a Neighbor-to-Neighbor Visit to Your In-District Member Offices: Your Members of Congress will be home from June 30th to July 8th. Use this time to establish and nurture relationships with your Senators and Representatives and as a key time to share the importance of protecting family unity. Click here to use a Neighbor to Neighbor Toolkit to request meetings and put together a team.

Join and Support June 30th Mass Mobilization in an event near you:  Click here to find an event near you. Events provide the opportunity for faith leaders to express how welcoming immigrants is part of all faith traditions, reflecting on the deep scriptural and spiritual roots of our work to support immigrants. They send a powerful message to the Trump administration and Congress that upholding family unity and welcoming immigrants is a moral issue that is important to people of faith and conscience.

Utilize Social Media to Amplify your Message:  Don’t forget to share the same message with your Senators and Representatives on social media. Click here for a digital media toolkit with sample social media posts and graphics. Use the hashtag #FamiliesBelongTogether  #KeepFamiliesTogether  and #ValueOurFamilies.

I invite you to join me in prayer and action as we work to secure the well-being of children and families in the name of the compassionate Christ.

In Christ,

Bob

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