- Immigrants & Refugees
Diane Randall Joins Faith Leaders' Call to Keep Government Open & Protect Immigrants
Twenty-nine faith leaders representing national faith-based organizations sent a letter to members of Congress tasked with finding a way forward on government spending ahead of February 15. The signers urged the committee to avert a shutdown and implement responsible spending practices for immigration enforcement.
The letter reads, "Lapses in government spending are not just symbolic or rhetorical. The real-world consequences of congressional inaction and obfuscation are catastrophic for vulnerable communities. We urge congressional leadership and conferees to use this opportunity to change the direction of spending, to take back authority over congressional appropriations power, and to engage in good faith discussions that result in a spending bill that reduces funding for ICE and CBP."
The letter cites concerns about making negative changes to immigration policy or increasing the budget for detention, deportation, and border militarization under threat of another partial government shutdown.
Upon release of the letter, Diane Randall, FCNL's Executive Secretary, stated, “America’s history is defined by generations of people seeking freedoms and safe haven. It is a legacy to be proud of, protect, and pursue. Expanding border walls and detention centers as well as further militarizing our borders diminishes our freedoms and the essence of who we are as a nation. Turning our backs on the world will not save our nation; it will erode the very values that built it.”
Read the full letter text below.
February 5, 2019
Download a PDF of the letter.
Dear U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives Leadership, and members of the Department of Homeland Security appropriations conference committee,
We write as faith leaders representing national faith-based organizations and religions to urge you to pursue the faithful way forward with ongoing appropriations negotiations. We are grateful Congress ended the partial shutdown, which had, and continues to have serious, lasting consequences for millions of individuals and families, especially those facing poverty and food insecurity.
As faith leaders, we urge you to avert another shutdown and implement responsible spending practices for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before February 15.
We 29 faith leaders are calling on you to:
1) Prevent increases to and ultimately reduce funding for deportations, detention, or border militarization and barrier construction within the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs & Border Protection (CBP) budgets. This money should be invested in accounts that protect human dignity.
2) Prohibit ICE & CBP from overspending appropriations or repurposing other agencies’ funding for detention, border wall construction, or expanded immigration enforcement.
3) Ensure that the conference process is not used as a vehicle to implement harmful changes to our immigration system or further curtail access to asylum or child protections.
DHS does not need any more money for immigration and border enforcement. In less than fifteen years, the ICE budget has nearly doubled and the CBP budget has nearly tripled. These spending increases have happened in the absence of meaningful policy reforms that would keep families together, ensure the protection of vulnerable people, and align our immigration system with our values. As conferees consider DHS spending, we urge you to free up funds currently allocated to unjust and immoral enforcement practices. Rather invest those funds in community-based alternatives to detention, legal services, and addressing the root causes of migration, such as poverty and violence in the Northern Triangle.
Congress should significantly rein in ICE & CBP’s resources and increase oversight and accountability. In the past two years alone, ICE has increased the number of beds in immigrant detention by 40%, expanding that capacity even amid the shutdown. ICE is keeping an historic 48,000 immigrants behind bars, nearly 8,000 more people than Congress allocated in the FY18 omnibus. This is simply unjust, financially irresponsible, and morally wrong. We urge conferees to put into place mechanisms that would stop ICE and CBP from overspending their annual appropriations for punitive enforcement at odds with our faith values.
Thoughtful and substantive immigration reform should be separate from the current three-week DHS appropriations negotiations. We are acutely aware of the meaningful, substantial policy reforms that are required to remedy the underlying pain faced by families and individuals at the mercy of a broken and punitive immigration system. These questions, however, should not be the focus of this conference. They should be thoughtfully considered by the committees of jurisdiction who are aware of the complexities of law so that Congress does not inflict unintended harm on vulnerable communities - be they Dreamers, federal workers, recipients of government assistance, border residents, asylum seekers, or other beloved children of God.
Lapses in government spending are not just symbolic or rhetorical. The real-world consequences of congressional inaction and obfuscation are catastrophic for vulnerable communities. We urge congressional leadership and conferees to use this opportunity to change the direction of spending, to take back authority over congressional appropriations power, and to engage in good faith discussions that result in a spending bill that reduces funding for ICE and CBP.
Finally, as faith leaders, we reject any unilateral action to declare a national emergency or otherwise unconstitutionally circumvent the congressional appropriations authority.
Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey, Director of Partnership Relations
Alliance of Baptists
Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
Rev. David Beckmann, President
Bread for the World
Michelle Warren, Advocacy & Strategic Engagement Director
Christian Community Development Association
Steve Timmermans, Executive Director
Christian Reformed Church in North America
Rev. John L. McCullough, President & CEO
Church World Service
Scott Wright, Director
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Eli McCarthy, PhD, Director of Justice and Peace
Conference of Superiors of Men
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Rev. Ebony Grisom
Ecumenical Poverty Initiative
Sister Margaret Magee, OSF, President
Franciscan Action Network
Lisa Sharon Harper, President and Founder
Freedom Road, LLC
Diane Randall, Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Carol Zinn, SSJ, Executive Director
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
J Ron Byler, Executive Director
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
The Reverend Jacqueline J. Lewis, PhD
Middle Collegiate Church
Lawrence Couch, Director
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO
National Council of Jewish Women
Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director
National Justice for Our Neighbors
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Sister Patricia Chappell, Executive Director
Pax Christi USA
Teri Hadro, BVM, President
Sisters of Charity, BVM
Sister JoAnn Persch, RSM, Justice Coordinator
Sisters of Mercy Chicago Justice Committee
Sister Aine O’Connor, RSM, Councilor
Leadership Team Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Valarie Kaur, Founder
The Revolutionary Love Project
Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, President
Unitarian Universalist Association
Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, President and CEO
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
John Dorhauer General Minister and President
United Church of Christ
Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McCarthy
Senators Shelby, Capito, Hoeven, Blunt, Leahy, Durbin, and Tester
Representatives Lowey, Roybal-Allard, Price, Lee, Cuellar, Aguilar, Granger, Fleischmann, Graves, and Palazzo