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Devastation of deportations must end, bishops declare in letter to President (ad test)

By Kathy L. Gilbert

Members of the United Methodist Immigration Task Force sent a letter to President Obama Feb. 25 stating the policy of mass deportations is “morally reprehensible and must end.”

The letter follows an act of civil disobedience by 32 faith leaders who were arrested in front of the White House on Feb. 17. Undocumented immigrants stood and prayed with ecumenical faith leaders and members of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

United Methodist Bishops Julius Trimble, Iowa, and Minerva Carcaño, California-Pacific, led the peaceful demonstration and signed the letter to bring focus to the 1,100 deportations that are happening daily.

“The Obama administration will reach 2 million deportations soon, that’s 2 million people since 2009,” said Bill Mefford, executive with the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

The letter to Obama states United Methodist churches across the country “have witnessed firsthand the devastation that results from raids that take place in homes, workplaces, and even in places of worship.”

Often, United Methodist churches are the first to respond when young dependent children are suddenly left alone after their parents are taken to detention centers.

Kneeling with the bishops on Feb. 17 were two family members who spoke of sudden arrests and threatened deportations of their loved ones.

Pilar Molina is speaking out, hoping for the quick release of her husband, Israel Resendiz-Hernandez, who was arrested Jan. 27 and is on a hunger strike at a Pennsylvania detention facility.

“We have two U.S. citizen daughters who ask every night, ‘When will our father be home?’” Molina said, tears in her eyes.

Hermina Gallegos Lopez said her 20-year-old daughter,Rosy, is in the Eloy Detention Center in Phoenix and is sick.

“I’m fasting for my daughter because she has been in detention for over five months. My daughter is sick and she is not getting the proper treatment she needs. I am fasting because every day that my daughter is in detention is a day that her health is in danger, if I don’t do anything she can die.”

Carcaño said United Methodists have mobilized tens of thousands in public witness events advocating for Congress to pass genuine immigration reform.

“Ultimately, we believe deportations will not convince Congress to do what is right by enacting genuine reform. Only by modeling what is just and right and stopping all deportations immediately will Congress and the rest of the country be convinced. You have done this once in a limited way through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and we believe you can and should do it again for all.”

*Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615)742-5470 or