April 4, 2023

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Jan. 26, 2017) — ISAIAH, a coalition of over 100 congregations that together work for economic and racial justice in Minnesota, released a statement in response to executive orders on interior enforcement that selective immigration and curtail law enforcement efforts on effective public safety by cutting funding for not assuming the role of immigration and naturalization officials.

The threats made by President Donald Trump yesterday regarding sanctuary cities are deeply troubling on moral, legal and ethical grounds.

Counties and cities hold full legal authority in providing clear separation between their local responsibility to enforce criminal law and the federal government’s responsibility to enforce civil immigration law. The continuous blurring of those lines puts millions at risk of being unjustly targeted for deportations, puts undue burden on public safety, extracts resources from city budgets and destabilizes entire communities.

The language used by President Trump to address the nation cannot be ignored. Its overtones were reminiscent of the “War on Crime” vernacular of Lyndon B. Johnson 50 years ago — a narrative that undoubtedly led to a targeted attack on black and brown, poor communities.

President Trump’s language of “us vs. them” created a dangerous caricature of immigrants, painting a whole group of people and whole communities as crime ridden villains and solely to blame for our nation’s problems. These are not the facts. Crime statistics of those who are undocumented show that they are often silent victims of crime perpetrated against them and they are less likely to commit a violent or felonious crime than the rest of society.

President Trump should immediately cease making policy based on groundless mythology, especially when the impact could cause immeasurable human suffering.

Furthermore, the President’s threat to cut funding for sanctuary cities is legally questionable. Jurisdictions that hold people on immigration detainers, requesting that local police hold an undocumented person in jailed custody, may be violating the Fourth Amendment by detaining people without a warrant or probable cause.  An immigration detainer is not a warrant, is not reviewed by a judge, and does not provide evidence of probable cause of a crime.  Many jails that have detained people on immigration detainers have been held liable for violating the person’s constitutional rights.

Investing $25 billion of taxpayer funds into a wall to nowhere and immigrant hunters, while divesting from lifesaving healthcare is economically insane and immoral.

Faith communities are tasked with the responsibility and moral obligation to combat dangerous political speech made by those with power with the life affirming truth. We cannot allow politicians and those in power to scapegoat immigrants for our nation’s challenges. Scapegoating is merely a distraction from the real work of rolling up our sleeves together and doing the real labor of demanding our government works for the common good and ensures that all of us have what we need to thrive, particularly those of us who are the most vulnerable.”

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