‘We should not allow history to repeat:’ How Pa.’s faithful are speaking up on the border crisis | Monday Morning Coffee

July 22, 2019 6:57 am

Mexico–United States barrier at the border of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, USA. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt. Some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background. WikiMedia Commons Image by Tomascastelazo.

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

In ways both large and small, Pennsylvania’s religious leaders, and religious activists, are making their voices heard in the ongoing debate over the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis at America’s southern border with Mexico.

From the processing of asylum requests to conditions in migrant detention centers, religious leaders and the faithful across a range of religions and faiths are speaking to say they’re not happy with American policy. And they’re calling on elected officials and the Trump administration to up their game.

In a July 12 letter to Pennsylvania’s U.S. House and Senate delegation, Bishop Edward Malesic, of Greensburg, called on Washington to “to please work as hard as you can” on legislation that “releases the unnecessary stranglehold on immigration to the United States that has caused tragic and inhumane consequences,” according to the National Catholic Reporter.

Malesic also sent his letter to President Donald Trump, the newspaper reported.

“I write today, in a land of freedom and almost unlimited opportunity, to call your attention to the fact that there are people, each one a child of God, who by our common relationship with the Lord are our brothers and sisters who need our help,” Malesic wrote, according to the newspaper.

“Many of these people, a number of whom are children, are fleeing for their lives after experiencing terrorism and hardship in their home countries,” he continued. “They are looking for safety, shelter, comfort, and peace for themselves and their families. They are knocking at our door.”

But “sadly, their knocks have gone unanswered,” Malesic concluded. Worse, he added, “we have locked them out.”

Image via

Evangelical leaders have also joined the chorus.

On July 17, they sent letters to TrumpVice President Mike Pence, and Congress calling on them to “respect U.S. laws that protect children and families seeking asylum,” according to the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of faith groups that includes the Assemblies of God, Bethany Christian Services, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Faith and Community Empowerment (formerly Korean Churches for Community Development), the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, The Wesleyan Church, and World Relief and World Vision.

Evangelical leaders were critical to Trump’s 2016 election. More than 1,300 evangelical pastors signed the letter.

“The humanitarian and moral crisis at our southern border is exacerbated by policies like the interim final rule that will harm children and families. In a recent visit to the border, I interacted with individuals — many from Central America, but also those from Africa, South America and elsewhere — with very credible claims of persecution. They have already been forced to wait for months in Mexico to register their claim at the U.S. port of entry; now, they will be found ineligible. The U.S. has a moral obligation to respect our laws that offer protection to those with a credible claim of persecution,” Jo Anne Lyon, the Global Ambassador for the Wesleyan Church, wrote.

Image via Flickr Commons

And in Philadelphia, as our colleague Will Bunch, of The Inquirer, recently wrote, young Jewish activists are taking to the streets to protest the White House’s immigration policies, and to call for more humane treatment of detained migrants.

These activists are “convinced that the gulag of squalid, overcrowded “dog pounds,” warehouse cages and tent cities for refugees trying to enter the United States at the Mexican border is a slippery slope toward something even worse, unless everyday Americans take radical actions to stop it,” Bunchwrote.

Last week, the activists in a group called Never Again Action took to the streets in front of ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., to stage what organizers hope will be the group’s biggest action yet. Already, the ad hoc movement has made headlines with daring actions from Elizabeth, N.J. — where 36 protesters were arrested for blocking an ICE facility as some wore prayer shawls or blew into shofars, a traditional Jewish horn — to San Francisco. At least 120 have been arrested nationwide, and leaders say this is just the start,” Bunch wrote.

“I think from a Jewish perspective it is just so reminiscent of what many of our ancestors went through,” organizer Lizzie Horne, 28, of Philadelphia, told Bunch last week. “These detention centers are alarmingly close — in image and in operation — to concentration camps. The lack of resources. No food. Not being able to shower. No toothpaste. People dying … We should not allow history to repeat. We’re not doomed. We have an opportunity to change it.”

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender
 sat down with U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-18th District. The Dean of Pa’s Congressional delegation says he wants 2020 Dems to talk about more than just Donald Trump.

Speaking of Trump, a York College professor explains what the POTUS is really talking about when he talks about putting America first.

Staff Reporter Stephen Caruso tailed U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean and Mary Gay Scanlon as they made a surprise visit to an ICE detention center in Berks County.

And Opinion Contributor Dick Polman says Trump’s racist tweets on ‘The Squad’ are a terrible teaser of what we’re in for in 2020. 

Image via

The turnout gap between voters with — and without — disabilities grew to 2.35 million people in 2018, the Inquirer reports.
PennLive looks at which Pennsylvania communities received the most opioid pills at the height of the abuse epidemic and deaths rose.
Pa. casino revenue reached a high of $3.3 billion in 2018, the Post-Gazettereports.
In the wake of gun violence in the city, Allentown Police are putting the focus on communication, the Morning Call reports.
It’s a ‘gray area’ when off-duty police decide to intervene in crimes, the Tribune-Review reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

While Philadelphia broiled, SEPTA stations stayed cool, BillyPenn reports.
One Pa. school district is threatening families with overdue lunch bills with foster careWITF-FM reports.
The Incline looks at the Post-Gazette’s looming transition to a ‘digital-only’ news organization.
PoliticsPA has the past week’s winners and losers in Pennsylvania politics.
Colorado Republicans are trying to use recall elections to pull Democrats from office, reports.
Under Wilbur Ross, the U.S. Commerce Department is ‘chaotic and adrift,’Politico reports.
The Trump administration is looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to help get its wall built more quickly.

What Goes On.
Pa. Dept. of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller
 is the guest speaker at this month’s Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon at the Harrisburg Hilton. Lunch at noon, speech at 12:30 p.m.
The House Democratic Policy Committee holds a 3 p.m. public hearing on hospital closures at American Legion Post 366 in Philadelphia.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Pa. Pardons Board Secretary Brandon Flood, and to our former PennLive colleague, Adam Brashear, both of whom celebrate today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, gents.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a phenomenal live version of ‘These Days,’ by Rudimental, with Jess Glynne and Macklemore.

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Reminding us that there will someday be professional baseball in Baltimore again, the Os blanked the Red Sox 5-0 on Sunday afternoon. Apparently, all the Birds need to win are playing conditions hotter than the surface of the sun. We’ll tough it out if that means they get back into playoff contention again.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.