Local Leaders Respond to Executive Orders

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Local faith, law enforcement and business leaders are responding to President Trump’s executive orders Wednesday, and in anticipation of a possible order regarding refugees.

The National Immigration Forum has summarized the president’s border enforcement order here and the interior enforcement order here.

Pastor Mike Bergman, First Baptist Church, Adrian, Missouri:
“It’s popular for evangelicals to think about the United States as being a Christian beacon throughout our history. God tells us to care for the poor, the needy and the foreigner as a shining light in the darkness. When we let misplaced fear detract us from that mission of care, our Christ-exalting beacon dims.”

Deputy Police Chief Carmen Best, Seattle:
“As law enforcement officers, we are concerned about people who break the law. The vast majority of undocumented people in our community are law-abiding people, and we need to work with them as a police service.”

Melissa Browning, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Contextual Ministry, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia:
“My life has been deeply transformed by my work with refugees, both in East Africa and here in the U.S. As a person who has lived abroad, I know the importance of being welcomed as a stranger. I also deeply believe that if we cannot welcome those on the margins, then we can no longer call ourselves a Christian nation. When Jesus walked on this earth he sought constantly to break down walls rather than build them. He welcomed those others sought to exclude. If we cannot follow the greatest commandment — of loving our neighbor who happens to be a foreigner — then we cannot claim to follow Christ.”

Blake Hart, Missions Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina, Rock Hill, South Carolina:
“It breaks my heart to look into the eyes of the immigrant in our community and see the fear caused by these hurtful, misguided executive orders. Our broken immigration system cannot be fixed by such simplistic solutions, especially when those solutions are devoid of compassion. Jesus teaches us to be good neighbors to everyone we meet, regardless their country of origin or their religion. That’s why, from now on, you will find me with my immigrant brothers and sisters, in solidarity and in opposition to these and any other hurtful executive orders.”

Pastor Andrew Hicks, Church at Bevo, St. Louis:
“If you consider yourself a faithful Christian, if you give any portion of your income to support mission works ‘over there,’ I do not know how you can support the curtailment of refugee resettlements ‘over here.’ If you’re giving money so they’ll be reached ‘over there,’ why would you not welcome them even more readily ‘over here’? Read Matthew 25 for the cautions of Jesus for how we treat those who are oppressed and displaced.”

Michael Hidalgo, Lead Pastor, Denver Community Church:
“The recent executive orders by our president, and those potentially yet to come, are threatening to families of undocumented workers who contribute to the common good. We must move toward comprehensive immigration reform, which will serve every citizen and immigrant well, and speak against the false narrative that those from other countries are a threat. As people of Christian faith, we must hold close the words of Jesus when he praised those who encountered the immigrant and ‘welcomed them in.’ May we commit to working tirelessly with all people in all sectors of this country toward the kind of welcome Jesus imagined.”

Jason Lee, Baptist Minister, Director of the Acts 17 Initiative, Spartanburg, South Carolina:
“The United States has been one of the most generous and welcoming countries in the world for all types of immigrants, including refugees. The U.S. refugee program resettles individuals from all over the world who are fleeing violence and persecution. Most of these refugees are women and children. The refugee resettlement program has historically had strong faith-based partnerships allowing local churches to welcome refugees. These new policies could hinder churches’ ability to serve refugees fleeing one of the worst global refugee crises we have known.”

Pastor Todd Littleton, Snow Hill Baptist Church, Tuttle, Oklahoma:
“Most people think of God and look up. The Incarnation demonstrates what it means to think of God and look down and in. As a local church pastor it will be important to remind Jesus people to show up with the immigrant and the refugee as an ongoing presence of the God who is with us.”

Police Chief Brian Manley, Austin, Texas:
“Successful and effective law enforcement at the local level requires a strong community relationship built on a foundation of trust between the entire community and department. If local law enforcement agencies are tasked with enforcing federal immigration law, this trust will break down and there will be segments within our communities that are left less safe. When part of a community is less safe, the entire community becomes less safe.”

Christopher C. Marquardt, Chair Elect, Latin American Association, Atlanta:
“Intentionally or not, among the targets of these executive orders are good and hardworking families with deep roots in our American communities. Many of those affected are spouses, parents or siblings of American citizens. Many pray with us in our churches and cheer with us in our high school stadiums. In their lives we see things that have always made America great: hard work, sacrifice, perseverance, generosity, and devotion to family. Instead of focusing taxpayer dollars on jailing these neighbors and kicking them out, we should work to achieve comprehensive immigration reform with full background checks and an attainable path to citizenship so that we can all benefit more fully from their talents and contributions to this nation.”

Kevin McBride, Senior Pastor, Raymond Baptist Church, Raymond, New Hampshire:
“The proposed draconian changes in our refugee program would hurt many innocent people who are trying to find a place of peace and safety and fleeing from destroyed areas.”

Will McCorkle, Educator, Ph.D. Student, Clemson University, South Carolina:
“Jesus said that when we see strangers in need we can go the way of the goats and ignore them or we can be like the sheep and embrace them. For Jesus, the stranger is not a secondary concern after we have taken care of our own. In some unique way, Jesus is embodied in the stranger. With these latest actions, our nation is taking the way of the goat and rejecting Jesus by our hostility towards the immigrant in our midst and our apathy toward those fleeing persecution and violence around the world.”

Pastor Brian Miller, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Montgomery, Alabama:
“For those of us who seek to follow Jesus, breaking barriers and welcoming strangers is more familiar than building walls and refusing hospitality. As a pastor, my concern is that our fears are driving us away from those who are different at a time when we should actually be moving toward them. Our witness to the perfect love that casts out fear matters.”

Police Chief Silvia Moir, Tempe, Arizona:
“Local policing is focused on reducing harm and building relationships in an effort to safeguard all people. While we adhere to the rule of law, we are concerned with an overreaching mandate on local police that would lead to an erosion of trust between the uniformed guardians of communities and all people we serve.”

Don Orange, Pastor, Fellowship Church, Greeley, Colorado:
“In my community we see a sense of uncertainty in many of our refugee and immigrant friends. As a pastor whose congregation are followers of Jesus, we are assuring our friends that we stand with them and will support them. We are so grateful for their presence here in our country. We are working with them to successfully integrate into our culture. So many of these friends express their gratitude for those who are offering to help. It is our prayer that we will have more opportunities to love those who are coming here for refuge. We trust that the USA will not close the doors to the refugee crisis, nor will she opt to live in fear and seek to deport those who have contributed in so many helpful ways to our economy and society.”

Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, Seattle:
“The Seattle Police Department stands behind its policies on immigration status. The policy is designed to foster trust and cooperation with all residents, including vulnerable immigrant communities. We are united with law enforcement across the country in our belief that local law enforcement should not enforce federal immigration laws.”

Patty Pell, Director of Justice and Mission, Denver Seminary:
“As Christians we are to be known for our commitment to the flourishing of all people and to the common good. Inherent in this commitment to flourishing is the protection and care of those who have come to our communities, in desperation, seeking safety and a future for their families. Because of the brokenness of our country’s immigration system, the unwillingness to work toward comprehensive reform, and the proposed reversal of several reasonable current policies, families are in danger of being separated, industries and communities face being left without adequate numbers of workers, and our country could be deprived of bright young leaders who bring to our towns and cities a cultural richness.”

Dep. Chief Jose Salcido, Wichita, Kansas:
“The most effective instrument of power against drugs and terrorism for local law enforcement is information. Any action that undermines police relationships in immigrant communities will reduce our ability to obtain information and intelligence on the very things that pose the biggest threat to our residents.”

Todd Schulte, President, FWD.us:
“Those individuals living here illegally who commit serious, violent crimes should be deported, but that can only be done if ICE prioritizes those individuals. Unfortunately, Wednesday’s order sets the stage for a large-scale ramp-up in deportations by no longer distinguishing between dangerous felons and an undocumented mother working to provide for her U.S.-citizen children. Diverting resources away from violent criminals would make us less safe and break apart families by removing from our country some of best and brightest workers, students and members of every community.”

Police Chief Mike Tupper, Marshalltown, Iowa:
“Local law enforcement is not trained or equipped to be the immigration enforcement arm of the federal government. Local law enforcement’s priority mission is to build positive and productive relationships with the community they serve. Mandating immigration enforcement responsibilities on the local level is counterproductive to this mission and will diminish public safety in our communities.”

Joel Vargas, J.D., Crime Prevention Coordinator, Bensenville Police Department, Bensenville, Illinois:
“As a Crime Prevention Coordinator for the Village of Bensenville, Illinois, a community that is 52 percent Hispanic, rhetoric followed by actions to force immigrants in our communities all over the U.S. to go into hiding can only affect our efforts to institute trust and collaboration with minority communities. Local economies like ours need these residents regardless of legal status to be able to shop in our local restaurants and stores.”

Hans Weston, Pastor, Jubilee Family Church, Grand Junction, Colorado:
“People of faith must be a voice for those dealing with injustice. Our current immigration law is not just and the move to attempt to enforce it will be even less so. Please speak out for the ‘stranger’ because Jesus said, ‘when you did it unto the least of these … you did it unto me.’ ”

Dustin White, Pastor, Radial Church, Canton, Ohio:
“It is apparent by the Trump administration’s executive orders on immigration that it values sensationalism over sense. As a pastor in Canton, Ohio, I can say that the collapse of compassion within these orders does not protect our communities; rather, it dismantles them. The rhetoric and posture towards immigrants espoused by the Trump administration undermines our nation’s commitment to provide ‘liberty and justice for all.”

Don Woolley, Director, QuadW Missional Internship; Mobile District Missioner, United Methodist Church, Alabama:
“Christians seek to love as Jesus loves, to embrace the ‘other’ as Jesus has embraced us. So, we welcome the immigrant and the refugee. To do otherwise is to betray the One we claim to follow.”

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