1. Letter
  2. Immigrants & Refugees, Economic Justice

Faith Groups to Congress: Prioritize Human Needs, Not Immigration Enforcement

April 30, 2019

As the appropriations process for 2020 begins, FCNL joined 30 national, faith-based organizations in calling on Congress to recognize its moral obligation to allocate federal funds in a manner that prioritizes human needs, rather than expanding immigration enforcement measures that attack children, families, and workers.

April 30, 2019

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 funding for programs that address true human needs instead of increasing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) budget for deportation, detention, and border militarization.

In the coming weeks, Congress will choose how much money each federal department will receive to invest in its programs. Many of these departments oversee critical responsibilities ranging from anti-hunger and housing programs, to green infrastructure, education, and humanitarian assistance. We urge Congress to invest 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 in the coming weeks 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 this in mind that we raise our concern and objection to the ever-increasing funding provided by Congress to the Department of Homeland Security to increase immigrant detention and border militarization. Spending billions of dollars on enforcement policies that often strip people of their dignity and routinely treat migrants with cruelty is a departure from our moral standing as a country and poor stewardship of taxpayer dollars. 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 detention and enforcement will exacerbate the plight of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants.

As you determine how much money should go to each federal spending bill, we faithfully urge you to consider that spending for detention, deportation and border militarization should be decreased and that you should carefully consider ways to invest in humanitarian solutions rather than expansion of investments in enforcement-only policies. There are myriad programs that need critical investment including education, anti-hunger, housing assistance, development, and re-entry programs that could benefit if the 302 (b) allocation for DHS is reduced.

Moreover, we urge you to ensure existing funding for DHS is re-allocated to community-based, non-restrictive alternatives to detention and reserved for the other crucial agencies within DHS that provide relief and support to communities. 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 model is far less costly and more humane than incarcerating every immigrant. This is the right path forward for our nation, not increasing detention and border militarization.

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

American Friends Service Committee

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice

Church World Service

Conference of Superiors of Men (Catholic)

Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces

Disciples Center for Public Witness

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Faith in Action

Franciscan Action Network

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Ignatian Solidarity Network

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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

National Justice for Our Neighbors

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Poligon Education Fund

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas


T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

The Episcopal Church

The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

Union for Reform Judaism

Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ)

United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries