• Lynn Tramonte

Ohio Religious Leaders Support Immigrants and Refugees

Each human being is to be accorded the dignity of a creature of God”

Akron, OH – Religious leaders from Ohio are bravely taking a stand against anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. As a new piece in The Atlantic points out, they are doing this despite the fact that “it could, in theory, get them killed. After all, the suspected Pittsburgh gunman railed against Jews and immigrants in online posts before the massacre.”

In “After the Pittsburgh Shootings, a Thanksgiving Pilgrimage to the Texas Border,” Richard Parker writes about the pre-Thanksgiving pilgrimage to the border organized by Rabbi Joshua Whinston of Ann Arbor, along with other religious leaders from Michigan, Ohio, and beyond:

[In Tornillo, TX], faith confronts power in a place that is ground zero in the firestorm over the changing complexion of America. The desert backdrop of their pilgrimage is richly instructive, too, filled with the footsteps of immigrants, including Jews, and the first actual site of that uniquely immigrant celebration, the reason for the journey: Thanksgiving.

Ohio leaders were inspired to join the pilgrimage to the border by their experiences at home, and compassion for others. Miriam Terlinchamp, Rabbi at Temple Sholom in Cincinnati, told The Atlantic that the deportation of Cincinnati mom Maribel Trujillo was a driving force behind her participation.

Rabbi Joshua M. Brown and Alan Fortnoff from Temple Israel in Fairlawn also attended the four-day pilgrimage to El Paso and Tornillo, Texas. Rabbi Brown said:

In the aftermath of the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and subsequent hate filled attacks in our country, I awoke to see that certain people in our country are being used as scapegoats for the deep fear Americans face today. Throughout history the Jewish people have often been wrongfully blamed for society’s ills with the severest of consequences brought upon our people. We, of all people, know where this leads and cannot stand idly by as immigrants and asylum seekers are becoming the face of fear in this country having done nothing other than knocked on our door looking for the safety and security all of us wish for our children.

Meanwhile, a group of northeastern Ohio religious leaders from diverse faiths has released a statement indicating that they “stand firmly and faithfully in the belief each human being is to be accorded the dignity of a creature of God.”

Signed by The Most Rev. Nelson J. Perez, Bishop of Cleveland and others from Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths, the statement leaves no doubt about where they stand on Trump Administration immigration policies:

We oppose the immigration and refugee policies being promulgated by federal authorities which seek to promote enforcement as the only possible solution to our broken immigration system. We also oppose efforts to weaken our asylum and refugee protection systems, as well as policies which discriminate against immigrants and refugees because of their faith affiliation. Congress also must pass, and the president sign, legislation which creates a path to citizenship for undocumented youth brought to this country at an early age and who have proven to be both industrious and productive.
We are particularly concerned with federal enforcement raids in Ohio which have injected fear in local immigrant communities and divided immigrant families. While enforcement is an important part of a functioning and just immigration system, it should not be used as a mechanism to sow fear and intimidation or to separate parents from their children. Law enforcement should focus primarily on those who are a threat to us, not to law-abiding long-term residents who have built equities in our nation over a period of time.

Read the full statement and list of signatories here.

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