The 2024 Festival of Faiths begins Sunday, August 25

June 27, 2019
TO: Hon. Sherrod Brown, United States Senate Hon. Rob Portman, United States Senate Hon. Steve Chabot, U.S. House of Representatives Hon. Brad Wenstrup, U.S. House of Representatives Hon. Warren Davidson, U.S. House of Representatives Hon. Michael Turner, U.S. House of Representatives Hon. Steve Stivers, U.S. House of Representatives

We are an interfaith coalition in southwestern Ohio that started coming together in 2003. We are made up of members of 30 faith traditions including 13 world religions. We count as members: Christians of many denominations, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha’is, Jains, Hindus, Unitarian Universalists, and Native Americans. We are black, brown, white, liberal, conservative, young and old. In short, we are as diverse as the United States and we share a belief in God. Our faiths have taught us all to do what God commands: to be loving, compassionate, fair, peace-loving, hospitable, charitable, trustworthy and more.

We are your constituents, and we vote.

Most of us have immigrant ancestors and with them we believe in the values engraved on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! Because of the atrocities during the Second World War, this sentiment of welcome to the “masses yearning to breathe free” became enshrined in international law as the human right to seek asylum.

Despite our different faith traditions, we all agree we cannot remain silent in the face of injustices, one of which is the unconscionable treatment of asylum-seekers by US government policy and actions. The most heinous abomination occurring now is the treatment of the children. Our hearts ache for these voiceless children who have been forcibly separated from their families and installed in appalling, inhumane, unsanitary, pestilential, unsafe warehouses that have been likened to cages, kennels, and prisons. Hundreds or more of these children have been adopted without their parents’ consent. Many are lost, many have been exploited and sexually abused. Some have even died in government custody. All suffer and many are damaged emotionally in ways we won’t see until some future time.

Having grown up believing in the freedom and justice the United States of America has represented to the rest of the world, we all are despondent about who we have become as a nation.

We call for every asylum-seeker to be provided due process under the law, nothing more, nothing less. If the Executive Branch is creating illegal policies, then the Legislative Branch is duty-bound to check these human abuses. If current US law is incapable of protecting these children who are exercising their legal right to seek asylum in the US under International Law, then you – our legislative representatives are the only ones who can rectify and remedy these circumstances.

Please work together now and do what is just and compassionate. Please respond to this human suffering by passing legislation that will alleviate these shameful conditions afflicting asylum-seeking children. These distressing happenings are a blot on our nation; they do not reflect the true, kindhearted spirit of the American people.

May God protect, strengthen and guide you to do what is right. Thank you.
Inayat K. Malik, M.D., Board Chair, Bridges of Faith Trialogue
Robert C. (Chip) Harrod, Director, Cincinnati Festival of Faiths