Senators Urge President to Work With Faith Community to Keep Families Together at Border

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Chris Coons (D-DE) today sent a letter to President Trump, signed by a bipartisan group of more than two dozen senators, stating that the default position of the United States should be to keep families together at the border, and urging the administration to work with the faith community on its efforts to reunify families. 

The letter says, “Throughout our history, faith-based organizations have partnered with the federal government to help achieve its humanitarian goals…. We encourage you to partner with the faith community to assist with family reunification and keeping families together in the future.” 

“There are many issues that divide us in the United States. Splitting families apart should not be one of them,” said Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “I fully support this bipartisan effort, united around the idea that the government should keep families together. I also join this call to empower churches and faith-based agencies to care for families in need. American policy, even immigration policy, should promote the flourishing of the family.”

“Family unity is essential to the human person. The Catholic Bishops have asked the administration to reunify families who have been separated and are helping with that process,” said Jonathan Reyes, Ph.D., US Conference of Catholic Bishops  Assistant General Secretary. “We can be a country of laws but we must also remain a nation of compassion. Going forward we can keep families together while their claims for asylum, often related to violent conditions in their homeland, are taken up by our legal system. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration on these efforts.”

“I am very grateful for this bipartisan initiative to call on our government to work with many faith communities in the urgent task of reuniting immigrant children with their families, from whom they have been separated,” said Jim Wallis, President and Founder of Sojourners. “In the faith community we have a deep conviction and commitment that families should never be separated again by public policy, and it is an essential priority for us to reunite these families.”

“At a time when many Americans are divided over politics, there is broad consensus that we should not separate children from their parents,” said Scott Arbeiter, President of World Relief. “It’s refreshing to see this bipartisan group of Senators speak with one voice on the importance of respecting the unity of the family. Faith-based nonprofits have been at the forefront of serving families in crisis for many years; we are committed to mobilizing the faith community to help those who are in need.”

“We welcome this bipartisan initiative to keep families together. For 100 years, Catholic Charities has been working to support migrants and build strong families,” said Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

The letter is also signed by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), James Inhofe (R-OK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

A PDF of the letter is available here, and the full text is below:

Dear Mr. President:

     We write to urge your administration to prioritize the reunification of families and to ensure that, from this point forward, the default position of the United States of America is to keep families together.

     While we represent constituents from all faiths and political backgrounds, we have all heard one consistent message—the United States government should not separate children from their families except in extreme circumstances. As we work to find a permanent solution, we urge the administration to use all available resources currently at its disposal to reunite families as soon as possible.

     Throughout our history, faith-based organizations have partnered with the federal government to help achieve its humanitarian goals. Faith-based organizations, including groups like Sojourners, Catholic Charities USA, World Vision, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Christian Community Development Association, Church World Service, and World Relief are willing and able to support reunification efforts and provide critical services for children and families in need. We encourage you to partner with the faith community to assist with family reunification and keeping families together in the future. 

     We remain committed to working together to fix our broken immigration system. Enforcement of our immigration laws should be a high priority, but we must also adhere to our core moral values as Americans.

    Thank you for your attention to this important matter.