Ecumenical agency calls for a halt on immigration raids

COLUMBIA — The S.C. Christian Action Council recently issued a call for a moratorium on immigration raids in South Carolina.

“The human condition is built on justice and mercy,” the group stated in a press release Nov. 10. “Justice promotes and protects the rights of all people with no stratification of privilege. Mercy acts to provide the requirements of life to those who, because of native ability or circumstance, cannot provide for themselves.”

The SCCAC stated that immigrants and newcomers to the state possess all the rights and corresponding responsibilities recognized by the church. These do not derive from membership in a state or from immigration status, but from the inherent dignity of every person.

“Our understanding of scripture assures us that what confers rights is personhood, that we are created in the image of God, not citizenship,” the statement said.

SCCAC stated that immigration raids target workers, typically immigrants, based on racial and ethnic appearance, accent or limited English skills.

“This is discrimination and violates both citizens and legally present non-citizen rights,” they stated.

“During raids, U.S. citizen children are separated from their parents, sometimes for days,” the statement said. “Children are stranded at day-care centers, schools, or homes of friends or relatives. The long-term impact on these children’s lives is unknown. Many times families may never be reunited.”

The group claimed that there is no readily accessible process to find a person in detention. Usually the assistance of an attorney is required.

“Raids reduce trust at all levels in law enforcement which results in immigrants fearful in calling police,” the statement said. “This is especially true for domestic violence victims and immigrants who witness crimes. Immi gration raids do not solve the problem of undocumented immigration. Only comprehensive federal reform can do this.”

The SCCAC board of directors called upon:

n The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to declare a moratorium on immigration raids in the state of South Carolina, until the United States implements a comprehensive and just reform of immigration laws;

n The faith communities of South Carolina to engage in educational and other activities that will inform and inspire more concern and love of all persons;

n All persons to move beyond attitudes of fear, jealousy, distrust and hate to restore an atmosphere of mutual concern towards all.

The SCCAC is a statewide ecumenical agency in partnership with 16 denominations, of which the Catholic Church is one, focused on Christian unity and inter-religious dialogue, restorative justice, ethical and moral immigration reform, public education and other vital issues.

Approximately 4,500 congregations are related to the council with a total membership of nearly 1.1 million South Carolinians.

For more information on the SCCAC, visit the organization’s Web site at