UNITED METHODIST WOMEN STATEMENT
Statement on Immigrant Parent-Child Separation
We are appalled by the disregard for the psychological, emotional and physical welfare of these children being exacted by the U.S. Justice Department. We are appalled that the welfare of children would be jettisoned to “punish” parents seeking asylum or fleeing untenable situations in their own countries.
Separating children from parents is not a new policy, which makes the decision to impose a “zero tolerance” approach that will result in increased numbers of child-parent separations even more horrendous. Experts know the traumatic impact on immigrant children of such separation because they have been observing and studying it for more than a decade. They know that children arriving on the border with their families seeking asylum already experience fear and lack basic provisions of food, shelter and protections. They know that tearing them from the one bit of security they still have—a caring parent—not only puts them at risk for physical assault but also makes them more susceptible to disease and irreparable mental stress.
We know the harm we are doing to children with this policy, which makes this deliberate separating of children from their parents for the intent of punishing the family particularly vile. This must stop now.
United Methodist Women has signed on to the “Women of Faith Cry Out to Keep Families Together” letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen calling for an end to this practice.
As Christian women, we take seriously the many biblical passages directing us to show kindness to, not oppress, the stranger in our midst because we too were once strangers in the land and we “know the heart of a stranger” (Exodus 23:9).
In addition, adults as individuals and certainly collectively as a society, have a special responsibility to protect children. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church, paragraph 162,C explains:
“Children…are full human beings in their own right, but beings to whom adults and society in general have special obligations. …Moreover, children have the rights to food, shelter, clothing, health care and emotional well-being, as do adults, and these rights we affirm as theirs regardless of actions or inactions of their parents or guardians. In particular, children must be protected from economic, physical, emotional, and sexual exploitation and abuse.”
And even more explicitly, as paragraph 162.H states: “We oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or that include detention of families with children….”
The Justice Department’s punitive use of immigrant child-parent separation flouts these concerns for basic human decency.
We call on the U.S. Justice Department to do right by the immigrant children on our borders—surely among the weakest and most vulnerable among us—and immediately end the policy of separating children from their families.