1. Letter
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

After Budget Deal, Faith Groups Urge Investment in True Human Needs

No Increases to Detention and Deportation

August 1, 2019

More than 30 national faith-based organizations urged Congress to reserve the increases for non-defense discretionary spending for true human needs programs, rather than for increased immigration enforcement.

U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee
U.S. House and Senate Leadership

Dear Members of Congress,

We write to you from across different faith traditions and faith-based organizations to urge you to prioritize non-defense discretionary funding for programs that address true human needs while reducing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) budget for deportation, detention, and border militarization.

Congress just approved a budget deal that raises the spending caps for non-defense discretionary spending. In the coming weeks, Congress will choose how much money each federal department and program will receive. Many of these departments oversee critical responsibilities ranging from anti-hunger and housing programs, to green infrastructure, education, and humanitarian assistance. As you determine funding levels for fiscal year 2020, we urge Congress to ensure all non-defense discretionary increases which resulted from the budget caps deal are invested in crucial programs that help every person realize their full God-given potential.

We believe that our nation’s budget and the decisions made by Congress should be treated as a moral roadmap toward a world where every child of God is clothed, fed, safe, loved, and free. As people of faith, our various traditions command us to love our neighbors and welcome guests as we would welcome God.

It is with these values in mind that we raise our concern and objection to the ever-increasing funding provided by Congress to DHS for immigrant detention and border militarization. Faith communities have long stood against increased incarceration in favor of community-based alternatives to detention, mitigation of the root causes of forced migration, and meaningful reforms that would reunite families permanently and allow our communities to flourish. We stand strong in our belief that more money for enforcement will only serve to exacerbate the plight of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, as we have seen unfold over the past few months at our southern border. As Congress determines allocation of non-defense discretionary increases, we faithfully urge you to decrease spending for detention, deportation and border militarization.

We urge Congress not to conflate enforcement funding with programs that provide relief and support to communities. Congress should instead carefully consider ways to invest in true humanitarian solutions. A pre-existing network of non-governmental organizations and faith communities are already engaged in reuniting families, providing legal support to people going to immigration court, and providing shelter for people in need. Investing in this community-based model is far less costly and more humane than incarcerating every immigrant.

Moreover, amid the finite funding increase for non-defense discretionary funding, there are myriad programs that need critical investment including education, nutrition assistance, housing assistance, development, and re-entry programs. Only one in six eligible children receive child care assistance, and only one in five low-income families with children are able to secure rental subsidies. We urge you to invest in human needs priorities, not detention and deportation. We ask that Congress stop squandering funds for inhumane use in detention, enforcement and border militarization, which comes as the direct expense of other programs including government responsibilities within DHS outside of the realm of immigration enforcement.

Our nation is only as strong as the communities’ in which we invest. Please prioritize funding true human needs over detention and deportation and reduce the overall budget of the Department of Homeland Security accordingly.

 In faith,

African American Ministers In Action

Alliance of Baptists

American Baptist Home Mission Societies

American Friends Service Committee

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Bread for the World

Bridges Faith Initiative

Christian Community Development Association

Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice

Church World Service

Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces

Daughters of Charity, USA

Disciples Center for Public Witness 

Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries

Faith in Public Life

Franciscan Action Network

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Council of Churches

National Council of Jewish Women

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Sisters of Mercy – Institute Justice Team


T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Union for Reform Judaism

Unitarian Universalist Association

Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries