A demonstration and prayer vigil about US immigration policy under intensified scrutiny organized by religious leaders of different faiths and denominations met outside the Downtown Los Angeles headquarters of ICE and the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday (6/21).
BY COLTON CURRY
I was fortunate enough to participate in this rally in support of immigration policy reform and to stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters who are being detained at the southern border of the United States. We gathered, not out of a commitment to either side of the political aisle, but out of a theological commitment to the “other.” It is this theological commitment to the “other” or the stranger that is crucial for us to keep in mind as we witness to the City of Los Angeles, so let’s unpack some of the nuances.
One of the rabbis in attendance spoke about Jeff Sessions’ quotation of Romans 13, noting that Sessions used this passage as a way to keep the people obedient to the law of the land. Speaking out of the prophetic tradition of the Jewish religion, this rabbi asserted that instead, the Torah is about dissent, about challenging authority. Moses did not abide by the law of his land, but instead followed the will of the Lord, went to the ruling authority of his day, and said, “What you are doing is unjust! Let my people go.”
Therefore, as religious leaders of our day, we are similarly called to approach our political leaders with the message, “What you are doing at the border is unjust! Return these children to their parents and let God’s people go.” This demonstration — and the immigration reform movement at large — was not fueled by rebellion against current immigration policies for rebellion’s sake. It was a Holy Spirit filled beckoning for lawmakers to reform policies that are morally inconsistent with the Law of God.
The treatment of undocumented immigrants at the southern border is inhumane and demonic. By separating children from their mothers and fathers and detaining them for many days we are forgetting what one rabbi said is the greatest lesson in the Torah, that every human is made in the Image of God. No matter one’s ethnicity, gender, class, or documentation, they bear the Image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect. What is happening at our southern border is neither dignifying nor respectful, it is disgraceful and should be stopped immediately.
Some good news is that President Trump recently signed an executive order to ban the practice of separating children from their families. This is evidence that the Holy Spirit is moving and that public pressure on politicians works to enact substantial social change!
Indeed, it is because of this victory that religious leaders urge us to keep fighting for the change we desire to see in our society. As one pastor noted, we must not stop until we are sure these children are returned to their parents. We must ensure that the policies fought for are carried out. And we should not stop there! Christians should organize and fight until the laws of our land reflect the realities of the Kingdom of God, where every human being is recognized and dignified as bearers of God’s image.
If you want to join in on these efforts to bring immigrant families back together or just want to learn more, getting involved with organizations like Matthew 25, CLUE, and PICOH California are a great place to start. There will be demonstrations at the border near San Diego this weekend (June 23-24), and I invite you to be a part of this movement.
Colton Curry reports on and participates in local and global Social Justice issues. He holds a B.A. in Practical Theology from Howard Payne University, and has a MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary with an emphasis in Christian Ethics. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO: A protest and prayer vigil about US immigration policy under recent intensified scrutiny organized by religious leaders of different faiths and denominations met outside the Downtown Los Angeles headquarters of ICE and the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday (6/21). (Together LA/Colton Curry)