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US church leaders blast Sessions for biblical justification of taking kids from families

Muslim times(Web Desk) – US Christian leaders have blasted Attorney General Jeff Session for claiming the Bible justifies Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy of separating children from their asylum-seeking family members detained at the country’s southern borders.

“While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety,” said Cardinal Daniel Nicholas DiNardo, who leads the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral,” he emphasized in a statement cited in a Huffington Post report on Saturday.

Sessions, who had earlier drawn widespread condemnation for his ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy, stuck another nerve on Thursday when he claimed that the Bible justifies the policy.

“Concerns raised by our church friends about separating families” are “not fair or logical,” Sessions said in a speech in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “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 them for the purpose of order.”

According to the report, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders further backed up the attorney general’s claims later in the day, insisting that it was “very biblical to enforce the law.”

Even Sessions’ own church, the United Methodist Church, has rejected the cruel policy, the report added.

“Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children,” said a statement signed by Bishop Kenneth Carter, president of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church.

Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and the editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America, also insisted that Sessions’ actions are in fact the opposite of the Bible’s teachings about caring for the poor and being compassionate.

“I cannot imagine anyone in his or her right mind thinking Jesus would approve of ripping children from their parents,” Martin said in a Friday interview on MSNBC news network. “It goes against pretty much the entire Bible in the ethos of Jesus, and it’s deeply un-Christian.”

The development came amid a CNN report citing a Honduran asylum seeker as saying that US border officials snatched her infant child from her while she was breastfeeding the baby at a detention center in southern Texas.

According to the report, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) – identified as Natalia Cornelio – said the women claimed in an interview that US agents had taken her infant daughter while the family was in custody.

Pointing to the recent testimony of DHS officials at a senate hearing that nearly 650 children were split from their families in detention centers within two weeks of launching the so-called zero-tolerance policy towards asylum seekers, Cornelio added: “The government is essentially torturing people by doing this.”

The TCRP also pointed out that in many cases US federal agencies fail to offer information to detained parents regarding their children’s whereabouts.

Local reports further indicates that several members of US Congress blocked off the entrance to the US Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Washington on Wednesday to protest the separation of minors from their parents.

“I cannot think of an act that is more cruel and more inhumane than to rip the child from the arms of the mother,” said Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois at the protest event.

“A mother who comes fleeing systematic torture, rape, death, gang violence. The cartels run her neighborhood, run her nation and her government does not, will not, cannot protect her,” Gutierrez underlined.

“She comes to the United States, not illegally, but following one of the greatest traditions in our country, to seek asylum, from death and from torture. We welcome her and her children to this country,” he further added.

This is while US authorities confirmed that nearly 2,000 small children of illegal immigrants to the US have been separated from their parents or adult guardians at the country’s southern border with Mexico in a six-week period.

A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said 1,995 minors were separated from their “alleged adult guardians” at the southern border in just over a month-long period, US-based National Public Radio (NPR) reported Saturday.

According to the report, the DHS officials added that the separations occurred between April 19 and the end of May under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, by which parents of mostly Latin Americans seeking asylum in the US would be criminally charged and their minor children taken away from them.

The report further reveals that little-known US government agency, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is in charge of “sheltering” children that have been separated from their parents or family members by DHS agents.

More than 10,000 children are in shelters run by the ORR, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the report adds, noting that the government agency relies on a network of 100 shelters in 14 states across the US to house the children.

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