Statement Regarding the Trump Administration's "Zero-Tolerance" Policy

People of good will from both sides of the political aisle have in the past few days watched in horror as the Trump administration’s policy of “zero tolerance” towards undocumented immigrants has led to needless and cruel torture of children by separating them from their families. We, the faithful, parish council, and clergy of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church, wholeheartedly condemn this callous and ungodly practice and add our voices to those millions who are crying out for justice and repentance from president Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and all those who are responsible for this abject cruelty. As Orthodox Christians, we firmly hold to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church, which call us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and to view each and every human being as created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). In light of these teachings, we hold that each person, irrespective of their race, nationality, or immigration status, should not only be treated with dignity and respect but also with compassion and selfless love. Though we humbly appreciate the fact that the United States faces many legislative and executive challenges with regards to immigration, we nonetheless believe that nothing could possibly justify willful abuse that results in permanent psychological and physical trauma for thousands of children and their families. Such actions are not only politically indefensible, they represent a pure moral evil that brings shame upon the entire administration and the country as a whole.

We welcome the recent news of President Trump’s signing of an executive order designed to end separation of families at the border. At the same time, we hope that this is but the first step in a necessary process of repentance and atonement that marks a change of heart with regards to the administration’s treatment of immigrants and refugees. Clear, decisive steps must be taken immediately to ensure that the thousands of children separated from their families at the border be reunited with their loved ones. Failure to do so would be nothing less than an abhorrent moral evil. 

The pain and suffering inflicted upon these separated families, many of whom came to the United States in search of legal asylum from violence in their countries of origin, cannot be undone with the simple stroke of a pen. The “zero-tolerance” policy that has led to so much pain in the past few days is not an anomaly, but rather the direct result of a concerted agenda on part of the current administration that seeks to vilify, humiliate, and terrorize vulnerable peoples who come to this country seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our Lord Jesus Christ was Himself a refugee child who sought asylum due to violence and persecution. It is therefore especially alarming and painful that Attorney General Sessions blasphemously invoked Scripture to justify what any God-fearing person knows is both evil and unjust. We sincerely pray that President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, and all those responsible for these policies find it in their hearts to seek forgiveness and that they ensure that undocumented immigrants be granted due process, dignity, and respect.  

We call upon our elected officials to fight against any policy and legislation that dehumanizes immigrants and refugees and causes undue suffering and pain to those who seek asylum; we demand that the administration and Congress continue to work towards immigration reform that is not only effective and practical but also compassionate and humane; and finally, we pray that we may all be guided by the words of Saint Paul in his letter to the Church at Corinth: “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).

In Christ,

Ágúst Symeon Magnússon, Ph.D. [statement author] - Council president