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The following is a statment from Bishop Alan Scarfe, of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, and Bishop Julius C. Trimble, of the Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. The statement was released July 18 and appeared in the Des Moines Register that same day.
The unfolding humanitarian crisis of over 57,000 children fleeing to the United States from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala is bringing the immigration debate and the world-wide refugee crisis closer to home.
Before we retreat to arguments of border security, cost to states and quick-fix policy decisions, let us all pause for a time of prayer and immediate compassionate response.
Every day, in hundreds of places around the world, mothers and fathers flee the countries and communities they love for reasons of safety and sheer survival. Desperate situations result in desperate efforts, as witnessed by thousands of unaccompanied children risking their lives for a chance to hope, eat and grow up in a free society. Unaccompanied children are willing to be put in harm’s way and risk arduous journeys to re-unite with a family member residing in the United States. According to the Migration Policy Institute, approximately 85% of the unaccompanied children have a family member residing in the United States.
We believe this may be a defining moment in our witness as faith leaders in the United States. Let this crisis involving thousands of innocent children bring out the best in Iowans. How we respond to children in this and all situations is a test of our national character and our capacity to wed compassion with justice and hospitality.
This weekend, July 18-20, please join others concerned about these children for a time of prayer and compassionate response. Reach out to persons you know from countries where children are fleeing and connect with churches and organizations working with these children.
Encourage our governor, and elected officials, to choose humanitarian hospitality as our first response, while we eagerly wait for Immigration Reform that unites families and acknowledges the causes of this current crisis.
We can echo the words of Jesus from Matthew 19:14 when he said, 14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (New Revised Standard Version)
- Bishop Alan Scarfe, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
- Bishop Julius C. Trimble, Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
*Check the Conference News and Facebook pages and follow the Conference Twitter feed for the latest on the border crisis, and follow the blog from JFON's Judy Kading, Immigrants Speak from the Border.