Influential evangelicals are calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to utilize “alternatives to detention” and release some detained undocumented immigrants as they await their hearings so long as they don’t pose a threat to public safety.
Nine leaders of evangelical organizations aligned with the Evangelical Immigration Table — including the new National Association of Evangelicals President Walter Kim and Southern Baptist Convention ethicist Russell Moore — signed onto a letter sent Monday to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.
They expressed concern about the wellbeing of staff and detainees in immigration detention centers nationwide as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues.
“Our concern is rooted in our Christian belief that each human life is made in the image of God and thus precious, and, like you, we want to do everything possible to minimize the loss of life as a result of this pandemic,” the letter explains.
“Individuals who are held in detention facilities, which often hold a large number of beds within a constrained space, are effectively unable to practice the ‘social distancing’ advised by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the spread the COVID-19.”
The letter goes on to state that while it may be necessary to continue detaining individuals who’ve been convicted of violent crimes and pose a threat to public safety, data obtained by Syracuse University suggests that the majority of individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in recent years have no criminal conviction on record.
“In the interest of public health — for these detainees, for the staff of these facilities and for the general public — we encourage you to utilize alternatives to detention for individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety,” the letter states. “Detainees who are elderly or who may otherwise be uniquely vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID-19 are of particular concern.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith