The Trump administration has fired tear gas this week at families seeking asylum on our nation’s southern border.
As leaders in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions, we watch in horror and we refuse to watch silently. Our faiths are all clear: We must welcome those in the midst of an exodus from violence in their home countries.
President Trump is using the strategies he knows best: fear and chaos. The suffering inflicted by the Border Patrol and the U.S. military at the border creates chaos. The president is attempting to use this chaos to compel Republicans in Congress to get behind his anti-immigrant policies.
No one — let alone the president of the United States — should use violence against vulnerable people for political gain. Trump is abusing his executive power. By now, it’s obvious that he used the military for political gain, by attempting to influence the midterm elections by moving troops to the border. This was an unsuccessful political ploy.
But now Trump is creating the horror on the border to bolster support for his border wall and for increased detention beds. Congress is required to complete its funding for the federal government by Dec. 7. If Trump refuses to sign bipartisan funding measures that ignore his personal anti-immigrant agenda, he could potentially shut down the government.
Trump's policies and actions are creating a crisis that he plans to appear to solve by forcing Congress to pay for a border wall and expanded private detention facilities. The stakes are high. Trump’s threat of a government shutdown puts the wellbeing of people on both sides of the border in jeopardy. It is a political game of chicken, and the most vulnerable asylum seekers are caught in the literal crossfire. These are the very people who most need our help.
The president’s policies violate every faith tradition and moral system alive in America. The Book of Matthew makes the Christian view on this very clear. Jesus says that if we don’t welcome the stranger, we will be condemned eternally. Rejecting the stranger is rejecting God. Islam teaches that those who accept refugees are true believers. Welcoming the stranger is a core principle of Judaism “because we were once strangers.” In fact, our federal and international asylum laws were created in the wake of America’s failures to act during the Holocaust.
Trump may not care about or share these teachings of our various faiths, but we know that many members of Congress and a vast majority of Americans do. The only way to end this outrage is for our elected leaders to say no. Elected officials must refuse to pay for one more tear gas canister. Refuse to pay for one more spot in Trump's detention facilities. Refuse to give one cent of taxpayer dollars to a border wall. It is the moral duty of members of Congress to put a stop to the tragedy we see at the border.
As faith leaders, we call on Congress to reject Trump’s manipulative use of executive power. Time is of the essence for the asylum seekers at our border. The faithful answer for Congress is clear: Support vulnerable people, and do not give one cent of our taxpayer dollars to Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.
Wajahat Ali, North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. William Barber II, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice Executive Director Sister Simone Campbell, and Bend the Arc CEO Stosh Cotler are faith leaders representing Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish traditions. They are senior fellows at Auburn Seminary.