Jackie Congedo — In Conversation
JCRC Statement on Inhumane Conditions at the Border
We are an interfaith coalition in southwestern Ohio that started coming together in 2003. We are made up of members of 30 faith traditions including 13 world religions. We count as members: Christians of many denominations, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha’is, Jains, Hindus, Unitarian Universalists, and Native Americans. We are black, brown, white, liberal, conservative, young and old. In short, we are as diverse as the United States and we share a belief in God. Our faiths have taught us all to do what God commands: to be loving, compassionate, fair, peace-loving, hospitable, charitable, trustworthy and more.
We are your constituents, and we vote.
Most of us have immigrant ancestors and with them we believe in the values engraved on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! Because of the atrocities during the Second World War, this sentiment of welcome to the “masses yearning to breathe free” became enshrined in international law as the human right to seek asylum.
Despite our different faith traditions, we all agree we cannot remain silent in the face of injustices, one of which is the unconscionable treatment of asylum-seekers by US government policy and actions. The most heinous abomination occurring now is the treatment of the children. Our hearts ache for these voiceless children who have been forcibly separated from their families and installed in appalling, inhumane, unsanitary, pestilential, unsafe warehouses that have been likened to cages, kennels, and prisons. Hundreds or more of these children have been adopted without their parents’ consent. Many are lost, many have been exploited and sexually abused. Some have even died in government custody. All suffer and many are damaged emotionally in ways we won’t see until some future time.
Having grown up believing in the freedom and justice the United States of America has represented to the rest of the world, we all are despondent about who we have become as a nation.
We call for every asylum-seeker to be provided due process under the law, nothing more, nothing less. If the Executive Branch is creating illegal policies, then the Legislative Branch is duty-bound to check these human abuses. If current US law is incapable of protecting these children who are exercising their legal right to seek asylum in the US under International Law, then you – our legislative representatives – are the only ones who can rectify and remedy these circumstances.
Please work together now and do what is just and compassionate. Please respond to this human suffering by passing legislation that will alleviate these shameful conditions afflicting asylum-seeking children. These distressing happenings are a blot on our nation; they do not reflect the true, kindhearted spirit of the American people.
May God protect, strengthen and guide you to do what is right. Thank you.
Inayat K. Malik, M.D., Board Chair, Bridges of Faith Trialogue
Robert C. (Chip) Harrod, Director, Cincinnati Festival of Faiths
Margaret and Marty Ackerman
Umama Alam, Bridges of Faith Trialogue
Laith Alfaqih, Ph.D., PE, resident of Montgomery OH
Bakhtavar (Becca) Desai, President, Zoroastrian Assn of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana
Fred Desai, Priest, Zoroastrian Assn of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana
Rabbi George Barnard
Rev. Paul Booth Jr, Pastor, Legacy Pointe Church
The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal, Diocese of Southern Ohio (Episcopal)
James P. Buchanan, Ph.D., Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, Xavier University
Clifton United Methodist Church
Barry E. Cobb
Jan Armstrong Cobb
Jackie Congedo, Cincinnati Jewish Community Relations Council
Karen Dabdoub, Executive Director, Council on American Islamic Relations, Cincinnati
Becca Diamond, rabbinic student, Hebrew Union College-JIR
Rev. Alan Dicken, Carthage Christian Church
Rabbi Noah S. Ferro, Northern Hills Synagogue
Jack W. Geiger
Michael W. Hawkins, Esq. Daniel J. Hoffheimer, Esq.
Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center
Rev. John Ivey, Beulah Missionary Baptist Church
Rabbi Meredith Kahan
Sandra P. Kaltman, Esq., Co-Chair, Cincinnati Festival of Faiths
Dr. Mitchel D. Livingston
Nazly Mamedova, Esq.
Mary Carol Melton, Elder, Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church
Rev. Stacey Midge, Pastor, Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church
Bishop W. Darin Moore, Presiding Prelate of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Zion Church
S. Nemat Moussavian, M.D., Bridges of Faith Trialogue
Lisa Miner Rosner, Esq.
Mary-Bob and Jack C. Rubenstein, Esq. Rick and Zeinab Schwen
Jan and Bruce Seidel, Jr.
Jasminder Singh, President, Guru Nanak Society Sikh Gurdwara of Greater Cincinnati
G. Amrik Singh Ji, Head Granthi, Guru Nanak Society Sikh Gurdwara of Greater Cincinnati
Dr. Satinder Singh Bharaj, Immediate Past President, Guru Nanak Society Sikh Gurdwara of Greater Cincinnati
Jaipal Singh & Aasees Kaur, Sikh Community of Greater Cincinnati
Samina Sohail, M.D., Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati Board of Trustees
Jheri Neri, Executive Director, Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition
Ohio River Valley District, United Methodist Church, Rev. David Meredith, Director of Urban Ministry
Rami J. Pouncey, Pastor, Greater St. John
AME Zion Church
The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity Center
Bishop Marvin F. Thomas Sr., Second Episcopal District CME Church
Shirley VanAbbema, Buddhist Dharma Center of Cincinnati
Deborah Clark Vance, Baha’i Faith of Cincinnati
Stephan Vance, Baha’i Faith of Cincinnati
Charleston C.K. Wang, Esq.
Rev. Sam Wyatt, Philippus United Church of Christ
Rabbi Gary P. Zola
Pastor Henry Zorn, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection
I’d also like to share the statement denouncing inhuman conditions at the border from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the national hub of the community relations network, representing 125 local Jewish community relations councils, including Cincinnati.
Looking for a way to help?
Hebrew Immigrating Aid Society (HIAS) has put together a list of ways you can take action. Learn more here.
If you want to support a local organization, Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio, Su Casa Hispanic Center, and the Immigrant & Refugee Law Center are all working on improving conditions for asylum-seekers.