Donald Trump has unleashed a torrent of fear among immigrant communities with his stepped up raids – which have torn families apart and even harmed the sick – and his call for a National Deportation Force. His underpinning philosophy is white nationalism. There is nothing moral in his approach. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents should consider showing honor to the best American traditions by resigning instead of acting as enforcers of a flawed strategy condemned by human rights organizations and religious bodies alike.
Asking ICE agents to resign is not an easy request. We should start with the assumption that ICE agents, like other various law enforcement agents, are patriotic Americans who wish nothing more than to defend America’s borders. These are men and women who have families to feed and children to send to college.
Mr. Trump has said at various times that he received the unanimous endorsement of ICE and border patrol agents. Like much Mr. Trump says, fact checks have ruled that statement mostly false.
No one disagrees that we need comprehensive immigration reform. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama advocated such an approach but a minority of conservative voices in Congress, some of them waving that white supremacist banner now carried by the Trump Administration, foiled such reform. Mass deportations and bans of Muslims coming into the United States dishonor our legacy of an immigrant nation that protects religious freedom. ICE agents are now used as the first wave of a campaign of fear and intimidation that solves no policy crisis but does threaten the human rights of decent people.
Religious leaders have noted that the Muslim Ban…
...as well as the two other immigration-related executive orders to build a wall and deport our undocumented community members, counters the values we as people of faith hold dear: to welcome the stranger and assist those most in need. These executive orders have been celebrated by those who use fear to perpetuate racism and xenophobia, which seriously erode shared values, constructive dialogue, and American leadership in the world. As Christians, we have a moral responsibility to speak out and advocate alongside all immigrants and refugees to stop these unjust and immoral executive orders.
For those ICE agents who are people of faith, you must ask yourself if following the Trump Administration’s policies violate your understanding of God’s call to us to protect immigrants, as most of the nation’s faith bodies have declared. For those ICE agents who believe deeply in Constitutional democracy, as I do, you must ask yourself if the Trump Administration is protecting our most sacred values as a nation or undermining them.
A resignation is an honorable act for government officials who believe the nation is headed on the wrong course. Some may believe that change can be created from the inside to mitigate the efforts undertaken by Mr. Trump but his administration, as autocrats do, is working to purge those who dissent from the dangerous, racist and religious bigoted policies brought forward by the newly installed president.
Does your duty reside with your nation and the common good of all people, or with Mr. Trump? All Americans will be faced with difficult choices during his reign. I urge those in ICE who believe in human rights and the best of America’s ideals to resign their positions and stand in opposition to those who would use law enforcement not for justice but as a tool of oppression.
History will judge us all on how we act today.
"...you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt." Deut 10:19 CEB