By Hamil Harris, Special to the AFRO
Chanting “let the children go….let the children go,” female pastors from across the country stood in the shadow of the United States Border Patrol to call for President Trump to end the practice of separating children from the parents of those trying to enter the United States illegally.
In recent months the Trump administration has enacted a “zero tolerance” policy in which several thousand children and parents are being housed separately in tents, secured by wire and fencing that critics, members of Congress and even the living First Ladies say is inhumane. On June 20, Trump reversed himself and said that children will no longer be separated from families caught crossing the border illegally. Instead, the children will be detained with their parents.
The Reverend Leslie Copeland Tune speaks at an interfaith rally at the DC headquarters of the US Border Patrol, led by women clergy.
“I speak today as a disciple of Jesus Christ who taught us by His example to welcome children when they come to us, not detain them,” said the Right Reverend Marian Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington in a statement. “He taught us how that however we treat the least among us…. is how we treat Christ himself.”
“I think the images of those children and their frantic parents, it’s waking up people in the nation, that otherwise have not been thinking through the implications of our foreign policy,” Budde told the AFRO.
Ministers across the spectrum of faith took turns speaking, praying and singing and among the group were even ministers from a number of Protestant faiths who supported Trump but have been appalled by the administrations actions.
“We are morally outraged because a nursing child has been ripped from the arms of his mother,” said Jennifer Butler CEO of Faith in Public Life, one of the organizers of the rally. “We are morally outraged because a father whose child was taken from his arms committed suicide and a toddler in a detention center was screaming because the only person who could console her was her mother, who wasn’t there.”
Even conservative icons like Rev. Franklyn Graham, son of the late Billy Graham has condemned the administration’s actions.
The Reverend Leslie Copeland Tune also spoke during the rally and made it clear that this is the beginning of a long battle and the movement is growing.
“Separating children from their families is more than inhumane. It is evil,” Tune said. “As people of faith we must do everything in our power to make sure this ends immediately.”
Other African Americans church leaders included the Reverend Dr. Michele Hagans and the Reverend Paula Clark both Canons from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
“We’re hoping that the President hears the voices of the many people standing here, and to ceases to separate children from their families,” Hagans told the AFRO.
Clark, Canon for Multicultural Ministries and Clergy Development in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, could not help but consider the connection with the rally happening on June 19, also known as Juneteenth, when Blacks in Texas were told two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, that slavery had officially ended.
“The significance of Juneteenth did not escape me. We have a history. We know that this country separates families. We know that this is the way we do it and it’s intolerable, it’s absolutely intolerable in 2018,” Clark, who is also the mother of D.C. editor Micha Green, told the AFRO.
“I had to be here and I’m going to be wherever we need to be to hold this government accountable,” Clark said.