CHICAGO, IL (June 19, 2018) – Covenanters are responding to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that mandates every person crossing the border be prosecuted and that children be separated from the parents. An invitation on the CovMagazine Facebook page to share thoughts on the issue brought a range of reactions.
“As a mother I am heartbroken, as a citizen I am appalled, as a church member I say heresy, as a Christian I cry out to God,” said Crystal Powers.
Some who opposed the policy said they were offended that Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the policy last week by citing a passage from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said to a gathering of law enforcement officers. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”
“This policy is heartbreaking and has to be addressed!” wrote Marci Bistodeau. “As Christians we should be speaking out against the cruelty. No matter what your stance is on immigration, taking children from their parents at a time when the whole family is so vulnerable is unconscionable. The fact that the administration has been quoting the Bible to support this madness should insult every Christian.”
Others supported their views by pointing to experts who said the policy could have long-lasting detrimental emotional effects on children.
Kari Small Bulgrin noted, “This country has enough traumatized children, why do this to children who have already been traumatized by the country they live in? Our ancestors came here for the same reasons. Can you imagine your great-grandparents, grandparents, parents being separated from each other after the treacherous journey across the Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean?”
Sagrid Eleanor Edman, a professor who started the nursing program at Bethel College, said an influential video produced decades ago and based on toddler-development studies, showed the impact of separating children from hospitalized parents at set visitation times, which had been the common practice.
“It was acclaimed by every pediatric nurse I knew,” Edman said. “The title of the film was ‘A Two-Year-Old Goes to the Hospital.’ …It focused on the practice in most hospitals of sending visitors and parents home in the late afternoon. The story showed mournful, crying toddlers who missed their parents, even though the loss was only overnight. Some of the children would not acknowledge the parent when they came back in the morning or clung to them crying as if they could not let them go. The result of this research and the film was that visiting hours were changed and loosened up so parents and caregivers could come and go as they needed to—or stay all night. What are we doing to children who don’t know where their parents are or have no way to get in touch other than a very restricted phone policy?”
Others said they disagreed with the policy but that the people crossing the border were violating the law.
“People who cross the borders illegally took the risk in breaking the law of the land, which is not perfect, but it is there for a good purpose for its people,” said Lorelei C. Lontoc. “Immigration laws have been in place for years (probably decades). I’m really curious why many are surprised by this. Why has this never been highlighted a decade ago? It is heartbreaking that families had to be separated, and yes, very traumatic for the children. But isn’t this what we do with parents who break the law and go to prison? The CPS (Child Protective Services) gets to work and places them in foster care. What are the statistics of adults crossing the border illegally and using their children as pawns, compared to those who are really seeking asylum from wars and conflicts? There’s got to be a better system.”
Jeff Isaak added, “My grandparents immigrated here legally. Therefore, no need to separate them from their parents. That’s the difference. I don’t agree with our current administration’s policy, but it is the law.”
Most legal experts have said that there is no law mandating the separation.