Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, 84th and current Attorney General of the United States claims that the Bible has given the current US government draconian legal and moral justification for separating children from their parents whilst they seek asylum. This policy I feel is an outrageous act against human life and dignity.
The US president trumped-up the story and blamed another political party for a “horrible law” separating immigrant children from their parents. But it was actually his own administration that had introduced this arbitrary policy. Under Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions IIIs’ new “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, everyone who attempts to cross the border — even those seeking genuine asylum — are being arrested and prosecuted. Because of the way that policy is enforced, almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in six weeks.
- Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, everyone who attempts to cross the border — even those seeking asylum — are being prosecuted.
- Because of the way that policy is enforced, almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in six weeks.
- Experts, mental health groups, and human rights organisations all say this could cause serious, lasting harm to children and their parents.
It is perplexing that Mr. Sessions’ tries to justify his ludicrous defence of the
governments administration’s policy by citing Romans 13, he not only exposes his lack of belief in God – but also his lack of biblical knowledge, perhaps he or his staff should stop using Google to find quotes for him to use in their campaigns and actually read the Bible themselves, then they might be able to apply its teachings correctly. One wonders which one of his Aides patted himself on the back for finding a quote Mr. Sessions III used so shamelessly, inaccurately and totally out of context (The interpretative factor for biblical interpretation needs to be in the correct frame of reference, contextual relationship and circumstances. This point holds specific sway when using Romans 13:1-7 where the Apostle Paul is writing to the Gentile believers in Rome to obey, not Roman secular and pagan authority, but to obey the God-ordained authority in Rome.)
So you see this verse has absolutely no correlation to Mr. Sessions III’s comments with one’s relationship to a government, whether the Roman Empire in the first century or any government of today. I would also add that if one is an advocate of the separation of Church and State, then the state should avoid using scriptures in its commentary, failing
to do it correctly can only be accepted as a lack off knowledge. Mr. Sessions quoting the Bible in the public forum therefore raises a need for the re-evaluation of the separation between Church and State. One should ask are you a secular government or one that follows the Commandments of God? Romans 13 is about respecting the law, but it has been used by the US government in the past to justify their actions that people of real faith today would regard as human atrocities, most particularly slavery; it was used to give legitimatisation to the Fugitive Slave Bill of 1793 which required the return of runaway slaves.
Many feel that if Mr. Sessions’ ruling are left unchallenged, many thousands of asylum-seekers who genuinely require aid will actually be endangered even further. The United States has frequently justified their administration’s crackdown on immigrants by maintaining that all migrants are “criminals.” Whilst in a lot of cases, they are actually the victims of criminals. The US has further claimed that most people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are unskilled economic migrants intent on stealing jobs from the American people, when again the opposite is true. Fiscal studies have shown that immigrants mostly contribute to the overall economy of a hosting nation. It is in the best interest of the immigrants to want to contribute, they feel useful, are able to provide for their families and live (the so often overused propaganda) “The American Dream”. I have often heard the above excuses being used by unemployed UK nationals who claim they do not have a job because of immigrants. The reason they do not have a job in fact is because they are unwilling to do the difficult work of picking fruit, cleaning houses, cutting lawns and caring for children and elderly, sweeping streets, refuse collection as they feel that it is beneath them or it does not pay enough for them to get out of bed.
The US Catholic Bishops Conference stated “We consider it worth re-starting what our brother bishops of Central America have to say about the fundamental issue which most directly relates to the policy of our own government, that of the problem of violence, of war and of peace: “Armed violence has come to several of our republics, and with it the danger of turning into a regional conflict. This violence continues to bear down on our countries, causing forced displacement of people within each country, the painful drama of refugees, widows and orphans whose numbers grow constantly, the abandonment of farms, the increasing unemployment, hunger and illness, the lack of doctors and medicines. “And though the causes of conflicts were internal, two outside forces have come into play: the ideological, generally Marxist, on the part of the revolutionary groups, and the other, that of national security which generally issues in repression by the military and the intervention of superpowers seeking to maintain spheres of influence; in their quest for a perilous balance of power, they feed the arms race, incite militarisation and place the peace of the region at permanent risk.
“We can do no less than condemn the war and the consequent sending of arms to Central America and we issue a fervent invitation to the dialogue for peace.”
Why are people seeking refuge in the USA? because of cartel wars and corrupt politicians (some put in power by the US)
The Foreign Office in the UK advises against travel to many Central American Countries stating “The FCO in the UK advise against all but essential travel to the areas of…” The U.S. Department of State issues travel warnings and travel alerts for Central America which is bordered by Mexico in the north which has Exercise Increased Caution, Belize is the same, El Salvador reconsider travel, Guatemala reconsider, Honduras reconsider, Nicaragua reconsider, to the southeast which is bordered by Colombia has Exercise Increased Caution. To the East is the Caribbean Sea and to the West the Pacific Ocean. So where can these desperate people turn to if not the United States, the land of the free, of opportunity, the police force of the world?
Let us for one moment look at why these people are seeking refuge. Jonathan Hiskey’s (Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Graduate Studies at Vanderbilt University) research shows that pure fear drives many migrants to leave home. With 60 murders per 100,000 people in 2017, El Salvador was the deadliest place in the world that was not at war. Almost 4,000 people were killed there last year. Professor Hiskey states “An increasing number of individuals are now arriving at the U.S. southwest border because of crime, violence and insecurity in Central America,” Other Central Americans flee home because of unbridled gang violence. Such migrants would typically surrender at the border and request asylum, explains a US immigration solicitor. The refugees are now being arrested before they can even surrender to the border security agents. International refugee law, which the U.S. has incorporated into domestic law, requires signatory countries to offer protection to people who demonstrate a well-founded fear of certain kinds of severe harm in their home countries. Their persecution must be related to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or their particular social group. A symptom of a far more critical issue plaguing the region – namely, corruption. Prosecutors in Honduras and El Salvador have discovered numerous financial links between MS-13 and high-ranking government officials, “they shield criminal organisations in exchange for economic support and political backing in gang-controlled barrios,” and these illicit relationships have “shattered most efforts to build the kinds of criminal justice institutions necessary to support a democratic society.” As a result, criminals can extort, threaten and kill with impunity. In 2014, 99% of all murders in Honduras went unsolved.
Since, by definition, refugees are not protected by their own governments, the international community steps in to ensure they are safe and protected,” said the UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency. The treaty was amended in 1967, in part to include refugees from around the world. According to the provisions, “refugees deserve, as a minimum, the same standards of treatment enjoyed by other foreign nationals in a given country and, in many cases, the same treatment as Green shading indicates unoccupied Census Blocks where statistically it is regarded as having 0% population. A single inhabitant is enough to omit a block from shading. Map by nic. nationals,” the UNHCR said. The United States is a signatory of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, they acceded the treaty (acceded is the formal acceptance of a treaty or agreement) on the 1st Of November 1968.
When one considers that according to US Census figures in 2002, 47% of the United States is actually uninhabited which makes the situation even more ludicrous. Whilst I understand some of these areas are deserts or non arable it does not make the uninhabitable and can be turned into habitable and “profitable” (we have to use the word profitable of the politicians will not listen to the argument), so there is room for those seeking asylum. Furthermore you have to remember that most of the people living in the USA are descendants from immigrants that were escaping conditions that they considered unfavourable in Europe (even if it was to the detriment of the First Nations People).
The difficulty for Sessions is that the historical situation in which Paul wrote his letter to the Romans actually undermine his policy rather than support it. This particular point makes Romans a bad defence of the policy Mr. Sessions is pursuing. Prior to the verse Mr. Sessions recently quoted in Romans 13, Paul also wrote that: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Below the verse that Mr. Sessions used for respect of a government the Apostle Paul sums up by encouraging the reader to: “Love your neighbour as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”
The flight of so many hundreds of thousands of Central Americans from their homelands over this decade, including the desperate efforts of unprecedented numbers to seek refuge in the United States, is the clearest sign of the human tragedy that besets the region. We should urge the government that their plight be given the high attention it deserves and that the needs of these persons be generously responded to by the United States.
Specifically, I would urge parishes, religious communities and social service agencies to increase their already commendable assistance to all refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons in need. Being conscious in a special way at this time of those who may not fulfil the legal requirements of the present legislation on legalisation. Please urge the US government to interpret the conditions for granting political asylum as broadly and generously as possible and strongly urge that even those Central Americans who are not able to make a prima facie claim to refugee status under the law be allowed, on humanitarian grounds, to remain here temporarily under the conditions of what is known as extended voluntary departure status.
In closing we would would like to offer a few quotes for Mr Sessions and the US government in the spirit of Christian education and in providing refuge to the oppressed. You will always find a biblical quote backing up any draconian dictatorial rule Mr. Sessions especially when used out of context as is often done by Machiavellian politicians who claim religious adherence (especially during elections) of one sort or another.
These two bible verse is specifically for those who currently hold the reigns of power in the US government. “And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Son of man, prophesy concerning the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to the shepherds: Thus saith the Lord God: Woe to the shepherds of Israel, that fed themselves: should not the flocks be fed by the shepherds? You ate the milk, and you clothed yourselves with the wool, and you killed that which was fat: but my flock you did not feed. The weak you have not strengthened, and that which was sick you have not healed, that which was broken you have not bound up, and that which was driven away you have not brought again, neither have you sought that which was lost: but you ruled over them with rigour, and with a high hand. And my sheep were scattered, because there was no shepherd: and they became the prey of all the beasts of the field, and were scattered. My sheep have wandered in every mountain, and in every high hill: and my flocks were scattered upon the face of the earth, and there was none that sought them, there was none, I say, that sought them. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, saith the Lord God, forasmuch as my flocks have been made a spoil, and my sheep are become a prey to all the beasts of the field, because there was no shepherd: for my shepherds did not seek after my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flocks: (Ezekiel 34:1-8)
THOSE WHO TWIST THE WORDS OF SCRIPTURE
Wherefore, dearly beloved, waiting for these things, be diligent that you may be found before him unspotted and blameless in peace. And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation; as also our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed, lest being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and unto the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18)
And scriptures that Mr. Sessions III should be applying are as follows:
LOVE REFUGEES AS YOURSELF
If a stranger dwell in your land, and abide among you, do not upbraid him: But let him be among you as one of the same country: and you shall love him as yourselves: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
LEAVE FOOD FOR THE POOR AND THE FOREIGNER
When thou reapest the corn of thy land, thou shalt not cut down all that is on the face of the earth to the very ground: nor shalt thou gather the ears that remain. Neither shalt thou gather the bunches and grapes that fall down in thy vineyard, but shalt leave them to the poor and the strangers to take. I am the Lord your God.. (Leviticus 19:9-10)
GOD LOVES THE FOREIGNER RESIDING AMONG YOU
He doth judgment to the fatherless and the widow, loveth the stranger, and giveth him food and raiment. And do you therefore love strangers, because you also were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
THE SIN OF SODOM: THEY DID NOT HELP THE POOR AND NEEDY
Behold this was the iniquity of Sodom thy sister, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance, and the idleness of her, and of her daughters: and they did not put forth their hand to the needy, and to the poor. (Ezekiel 16:49)
DO NOT OPPRESS A FOREIGNER
Thou shalt not molest a stranger, for you know the hearts of strangers: for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
DO NOT DEPRIVE FOREIGNERS AMONG YOU OF JUSTICE
And I will come to you in judgment, and will be a speedy witness against sorcerers, and adulterers, and false swearers, and them that oppress the hireling in his wages; the widows, and the fatherless: and oppress the stranger, and have not feared me, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:5)
DO WHATEVER THE FOREIGNER ASKS OF YOU
Moreover also the stranger, who is not of thy people Israel, when he shall come out of a far country for thy name’s sake, (for they shall hear everywhere of thy great name and thy mighty hand. And thy stretched out arm,) so when he shall come, and shall pray in this place. Then hear thou in heaven, in the firmament of thy dwelling place, and do all those things, for which that stranger shall call upon thee: that all the people of the earth may learn to fear thy name, as do thy people Israel, and may prove that thy name is called upon on this house, which I have built. If thy people go out to war against their enemies, by what way soever thou shalt send them, they shall pray to thee towards the way of the city, which thou hast chosen, and towards the house, which I have built to thy name:. (1 Kings 8:41-44)
LEAVE YOUR DOOR OPEN TO THE TRAVELER
The stranger did not stay without, my door was open to the traveller. (Job, discussing his devotion to God) (Job 31:32)
INVITE THE STRANGER IN
And being afraid I went and hid thy talent in the earth: behold here thou hast that which is thine. And his lord answering, said to him: Wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sow not, and gather where I have not strewed: Thou oughtest therefore to have committed my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received my own with usury. Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents. For to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound: but from him that hath not, that also which he seemeth to have shall be taken away. And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. (Matthew 25:25-36)
WE WERE ALL BAPTISED BY ONE SPIRIT
For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptised into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink. For the body also is not one member, but many.. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF
For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Galatians 5:14)
HAVE MERCY ON YOUR NEIGHBOUR
But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour?
And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead. And it chanced, that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion. And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host, and said: Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee. Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbour to him that fell among the robbers? But he said: He that shewed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou in like manner. (Luke 10:29-37)
May Mary, pilgrim of faith, be with them in this difficult stage in their history and grant them from her son the precious gift of reconciliation and of peace.
Fr. Ugo-Maria ESB
St. Mary’s Hermitage 20th June 2018