Mississippi’s Catholic bishops have issued a statement with Episcopalian, Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran bishops condemning immigration raids.
The raids, carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on 7 August, have left many children without parents.
In one of the biggest operations of its kind in over a decade, workers were targeted at seven food production companies in Mississippi.
This resulted in nearly 700 undocumented immigrants, the majority of whom were Latin American, being rounded up and detained.
“Raids, such as those conducted on Wednesday in the central part of Mississippi, only serve to ‘cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities,’” the statement said, referring to a July letter by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo to President Trump.
In the letter, Cardinal DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), condemned the ICE crackdown and asked President Trump to reconsider this action. The statement reiterated the cardinal’s sentiments.
“We, the undersigned, condemn such an approach, which, as he (Cardinal DiNardo) rightly states, ‘has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the United States,’” they said.
Signing the statement were Catholic Bishops Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson and Louis F. Kihneman III of Biloxi; Episcopal Bishop Brian R. Seage of Mississippi; Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church; and Bishop H. Julian Gordy, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Southeastern Synod.
According to CNN, around 300 of the 700 detained have been released on humanitarian grounds, many of them parents who are now reunited with their children.
The Christian leaders warned that the situation could worsen if action is not taken.
“Of course, we are committed to a just and compassionate reform to our nation’s immigration system, but there is an urgent and critical need at this time to avoid a worsening crisis,” they said.
They also said they would be ready to help the immigrants with material support following the raids.
“We are his body and, therefore, called to act in love as a unified community for our churches and for the common good of our local communities and nation.”
“We can stand in solidarity to provide solace, material assistance, and strength for the separated and traumatized children, parents and families,” they said.
Explaining the raids, ICE’s acting director, Matt Albence, said: “The arrests today were the result of a yearlong criminal investigation. And the arrests and warrants that were executed today are just another step in that investigation.”
Bishop Kopacz told Fides News that the diocesan community will actively seek to meet the needs of families.
“As time goes on this month, there are going to be some real crises. We will give our contribution,” he said.
The Christian leaders’ statement ended with an appeal “to directly assist immigrant families.”
Picture: A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer looks on after executing search warrants and making arrests on August 7, 2019, at an agricultural processing facility in Canton, Mississippi. (CNS photo/Immigration and Customs Enforcement handout via Reuters)