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Faith leaders condemn separation of families, say Trump’s exec order falls short

Rev. Brendan A. Curran speaks at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Chicago Thursday. He was among faith leaders gathered there to denounce what they called the "inhumane" family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

A group of multi-faith leaders gathered Thursday morning to condemn President Donald Trump and his administration’s policy that has led to thousands migrant children being separated from their parents.

Over 30 members of various faith communities gathered in the lower level of the Loop-based St. Peter’s Church. There, they urged the administration to reunite children who’ve already been separated with their families and institute “humane immigration reforms.”

Rev. Rosa Yeonshin, campus minister of Northern Illinois University and a pastor with Cortland United Methodist, said “jailing families who are seeking asylum is not the solution” and the executive order wasn’t enough.

“We still insist on a complete and humane approach to those people who are seeking asylum” in the United States, Yeonshin said. “We believe the detention of these people is still inhumane … and we support policies that compassionately welcome immigrants and respect their rights.”

National outrage about the policy spurred Trump to cave on the controversial policy Wednesday, when he signed an executive order ending the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Faith leaders gathered at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Chicago Thursday to denounce what they called the “inhumane” family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times
Faith leaders gathered at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Chicago Thursday to denounce what they called the “inhumane” family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

The official text of the order, “Affording Congress An Opportunity To Address Family Separation,” states that “it is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources,” it read in part.

“It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law,” the order read.

The Department of Homeland Security reported earlier this month that 2,342 children had been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border from May 5 through June 9.

For Charlie Rollason the order “isn’t aligned” with the U.N. human rights agreements that the U.S. has signed. A member of Gather Activism, Rollason called the policy and the absence of a plan to reunite children with their families “a human rights violation of the highest order.”

Gather, along with other community organizations in the city, have plans to rally and march June 30 in protest of the administration’s “cruel policy of separating kids from their parents.”

“The U.S. is for the people and by the people and if we want change we have to do it,” Rollason said. “There’s more to be done and we have to show we stand in solidarity with those whose voices cannot be heard.”