A Faith-Based Response to Relief From Deportation For Immigrant Families

As people of faith and hope, we give thanks that thousands of our neighbors in Alabama will no longer live in fear – at least for now – of their lives being torn apart by deportation.

For us, deportation means the forced separation of families we have come to know and love in our own congregations and communities. Their families are now our families; their children are our own. For us, this is about more important than politics or ideology.

For us, it is about our sacred texts which instruct us to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger. It is about the sanctity of every person and family. It is about the universal desire of all parents to work for the health, education and economic security of their children.

So many families have lived in Alabama for so long, putting down roots, working long hours, serving in the military, giving leadership in their churches and communities, and raising their children to believe in the values of our faith and country. They love Alabama! They care about who wins the Alabama-Auburn game. They will continue to do so, only now without the constant cloud of fear.

So many people have waited for so long and worked so hard to bring about this relief. Yet the President’s Executive Order does not offer any relief for more than half the undocumented immigrants in our country. An immigration lawyer offered this analogy of the mixed feelings many people felt last night:

“For the numerical majority of undocumented immigrants, including a lot of very dear friends, I imagine that was like watching as your sibling gets the news she’s been adopted into a loving home while you’ll remain in the orphanage with Ms. Hannigan. We can’t let it tear our family apart.”

As Pope Francis said so eloquently: “Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected, and loved.”

Our prayer is that our elected representatives, those who administer our immigration system from enforcement to Deferred Action, and all residents of Alabama will never lose sight of the image of God in each child of God facing the threat of deportation. We continue to pray that Congress will enact a permanent, humane solution to this complex issue demanding the attention of our very human family.