The following letter, facilitated by partner organization Granite State Organizing Project, was sent to the Union Leader:
An Open Letter on Child Refugees
We, the undersigned clergy, from diverse faiths working in Manchester, offer this open letter to our community in response to the flood of child refugees coming to the United States from Central America.
We have been watching as the number of unaccompanied children entering the United States has grown to more than 57,000 so far in 2014, up from 27,884 in 2013. These children and families are fleeing horrific and worsening violence (worse in some cases than in open war zones), extreme poverty, gang-related dangers, and their governments’ inability or unwillingness to protect them.
These refugee children are risking life and limb to flee violence and poverty in their homeland, hoping to find safety in America. The story of this land being a safe refuge and a place of possibility is heard by children and adults all across the globe. It is the same story that we heard with pride when we were children. It is the same promise proclaimed on the Statue of Liberty, and it beckons to them with the promise of safety and stirs hope in them.
To its credit, this country has taken in refugees before (and to its shame, it has also turned them away, sending them back to danger and death; something we believed we would never see or do again). It is fast becoming apparent, however, that the collective will to care for these children is below their expectations and need. For them, the story that fostered such hope is met with profound disappointment as once in the US they are being detained, disgraced, and deported – treated more like criminals, terrorists, and threats than children, refugees, and victims of unspeakable horror.
As leaders in the faith community, we stand in solidarity and love with the children who seek refuge in our land. Deeply aware not just of our own immigrant stories and roots, clear biblical imperative to care for the stranger in our midst, to offer food, shelter, and care to those in need, and that there is no religious tradition which justifies sending children and refugees to their deaths, we invite our community to join us in prayerful study and active consideration of how we can best respond to this crisis and address the needs of those seeking our aid.
Bishop Robert Hirschfeld
Father Joseph Gurdak, Ofm Cap.
Sister Felicia McKone
Sister Dorothy Cormier
Father John Buchino
Rev. William Exner
Rev. Kathleen Cullen
Sister Carol Descoteaux
Sister Jacqueline Verville
Rev. Patrick McLaughlin
Rabbi Beth Davidson