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Statement of Interfaith Leaders of Northeastern Ohio On Immigration and Refugee Issues
Statement of Interfaith Leaders of Northeastern Ohio
On Immigration and Refugee Issues
As interfaith leaders, we stand firmly and faithfully in the belief that each human
being is to be accorded the dignity of a creature of God. It is God to whom we
owe our ultimate existence and dignity. We also believe human beings constitute
one human family which demands we speak out and for all humans who have been
created in the image of God. These beliefs transcend all political and cultural
We, interfaith leaders of northeastern Ohio, join together to promote immigration
and refugee policies that embrace and welcome newcomers into our communities
and promote their human rights and dignity. This is done with due respect for the
fact that we are a nation that values the rule of law.
We are troubled by the rhetoric against immigrants and refugees being used by
some of our elected officials, which dehumanizes them and subjects them to
abusive behavior. This rhetoric has created a toxic political and social
environment which tends to blame immigrants and refugees for our social ills,
despite the truth that immigrants have been a positive force for the improvement of
our nation, state and localities, as well as having a lower crime rate than the
general population. We urge members of our congregations to resist this rhetoric
and to show solidarity and generosity to those who come to our country in search
of safety and opportunity.
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.
The most viable solution to our broken immigration system is to address the root
causes of migration from neighboring nations in Central America. Because of
violence, conflict and extreme poverty many feel that migration is the only way
they can live in safety and support their families in dignity.
Policies of deterrence, including the cruel practice of separating children from their
parents, are ineffective and place immigrant families in more danger. We also
must fix our broken immigration system through just, compassionate and humane
immigration reform legislation.
We will work together to achieve these goals and to educate our congregations on
the issue of immigration from our faith perspectives. We are united in the view
that all migrants, regardless of their national origin, ethnicity, race, religion, or
legal status are endowed with God-given rights which should be protected and
should not be subject to abuse or exploitation. We strongly believe that our great
country can create an immigration system which is fair, honors the rule of law, and
upholds human rights and dignity.
The Most Rev. Nelson Perez
Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Cleveland
The Rev. Abraham Allende
Bishop, Northeast Ohio Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth Jr.
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Ohio
Prof. Zeki Saritoprak,
Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies
John Carroll University
Imam Rames Islambouli
Uqbah Mosque Foundation
The Rt. Rev. Arthur B. Williams Jr.
Assisting Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Ohio
The Rev. Gary Halstead
Associate Association Minister
United Church of Christ
The Rev. Sharon Core
General Presbyter
Presbytery of the Western Reserve PCUSA
V. Rev. Fr. Alexander Garklavs
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
Rabbi Stephen Weiss
B'nai Jeshurun Synagogue
Mr. Isam Zaiem
Council on American-Islamic Relations
The Rev. Nayiri Karjian
Association Minister
United Church of Christ
The Rev. Stephen Bailey
District Superintendent
The United Methodist Church
V. Rev. Fr. Remus Grama
St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Church
V. Ref. Fr. Hratch Sargsyan
St. Gregory of Narek
Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church

The Rt. Rev. William D. Persell
Assisting Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Ohio