Trump administration’s policies loom large in joint hearing on immigration

By David Paulsen
Posted Jul 7, 2018
Nancy Frausto

The Rev. Nancy Frausto, a “Dreamer” and deputy from the Diocese of Los Angeles, testifies July 7 at the joint hearing on immigration resolutions. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Few issues were as primed for spirited debate heading into the 79th General Convention as immigration. The Episcopal Church’s triennial gathering is being held in the capital of this border state amid a continuing uproar over a Trump administration policy of “zero tolerance” toward immigrants coming into the country, a policy that involved until recently the separation of children from their parents in detention.

General Convention is considering nine resolutions relating to migration and immigration, and all nine were on the agenda July 7 at a joint hearing of two legislative committees at the JW Marriott hotel, just west of the convention center.

Jose Rodriguez

“We need a statement that says these families matter to this church,” the Rev. José Rodríguez-Sanjuro, an alternate from the Diocese of Central Florida, said.

About two dozen people testified, including Central American bishops, border state priests, Episcopalians active in refugee resettlement and at least one “Dreamer,” the Rev. Nancy Frausto, who like other Dreamers was brought to the United States illegally when she was a child. She now is a priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

“The 800,000 Dreamers need to have the Episcopal Church stand behind them, and not just them but all immigrants,” Frausto said, speaking in favor of Resolution C033, which puts the church on record as respecting the dignity of immigrants and outlines how public policy should reflect that belief.

“I’m going to keep it simple: This saves lives,” said Frausto, who also was one of the three panelists who discussed racial reconciliation July 6 at the first of three TEConversations, scheduled as joint sessions of General Convention.

The two social justice committees, one focused on United States policy and the other on international policy, held the hearing to take input on resolutions covering a range of topics, including providing sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation, condemning the separation of migrant families, supporting Haitians who are poised to face deportation, and calling for permanent legal status to Deferred Action for Child Arrivals recipients through federal legislation known as the DREAM Act.

General Convention has spoken out on immigrations issues through resolutions dating back at least as far as the 1980s. Among them is a resolution from 2012 urging passage of the DREAM Act. This year, Resolution C002 urges passage of a “clean” DREAM Act, a reference to recent political developments that have bogged down progress on the legislation since President Donald Trump ended an executive branch policy of protection DACA recipients.

Resolutions passed by General Convention can be used for advocacy work by the Office of Government Relations, which is based in Washington, D.C., and conducts nonpartisan advocacy through direct appeals to congressional offices and by mobilizing the Episcopal Public Policy Network.

Of the nine resolutions on immigration before General Convention, the international policy committee is reviewing just one, D009, but that one is substantial. Titled, “Christian Principles for Responding to Human Migration,” it lays out some of the scriptural and theological basis for the church’s advocacy on such issues, as well as the real-world application of those beliefs.

The Rev. Paul Moore, an Episcopal priest from Silver City, New Mexico, and chair of Rio Grande Borderland Ministries, testified in favor of D009, speaking in English and then in Spanish, and he cited several Bible passages underpinning the church’s outreach toward immigrants.

“Welcome strangers, lest we not miss entertaining angels,” he said, referencing a passage from Hebrews.

Angela Smith testified about her work with Saint Francis Migration Ministries in Kansas, an affiliate of Episcopal Migration Ministries, one of the nine agencies which contract with the U.S. State Department to resettle refugees in this country. The number of resettlements has plummeted under Trump, which Smith argued is affecting the country’s standing in the world.

“This is not who we are. It is not who we want to be,” Smith said. “Refugees enrich our communities throughout the United States. They bring joy, and they make us better.”

Immigration hearing

More than 100 attended the joint hearing July 7 on immigration resolutions at the JW Marriott hotel in Austin, Texas, during the 79th General Convention. David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

And the Rev. Chris Easthill, a deputy with the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, emphasized that the issues surrounding migration are not exclusive to the United States, and the church can help stem the tide of fear and hate.

“Migration is the big political divide across the globe,” Easthill said. “We need a robust Christian response.”

The hearing came as the bishops and deputies attending General Convention are planning a visible response of their own, with a scheduled trip July 8 to a federal immigration detention facility a little more than a half hour from Austin. A prayer service is planned for about noon outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, and the Sunday legislative schedule was adjusted to accommodate those who wished to attend.

The prayer service was arranged in response to the Trump administration’s policy toward immigrant families crossing the border illegally with children, a policy that is referenced directly in Resolution A178 titled, “Halt the Intensification and Implementation of Immigration Policies and Practices that are Harmful to Migrant Women, Parents and Children.”

The policy also was cited July 7 during testimony at the joint hearing on immigration.

Bishop Juan David Alvarado of the Anglican-Episcopal Church in El Salvador testified in Spanish with an English interpreter to tell the committees the natural and human-made disasters the country’s people have suffered through, from earthquakes to floods to civil war. Salvadoran immigrants seeking to enter the United States are driven by thoughts of safety, family and opportunity, he said.

“The policy of zero tolerance in this country affect greatly the region of Central America,” Alvarado said in supporting Resolution C033.

Several people called for language in the resolutions that strengthened the call to action or provided more specifics about the urgency of these issues. Others said it was important simply for the church to take a stand.

“We need a comprehensive statement. We need this statement,” said the Rev. José Rodríguez-Sanjuro, an alternate deputy from the Diocese of Central Florida.

He said his congregation, Jesus of Nazareth Episcopal Church in Orlando, is half immigrants, and many are afraid. He described meeting in his office with a family, the little boy crying. His father already was facing a deadline for deportation, and his mother had to check in later this year with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We need a statement that says these families matter to this church,” he said in advocating for Resolution C033. “I’m losing parishioners because of deportation. Give me something I can use to give them hope. Give me something to reinforce the message that this church welcomes you, this church loves you.”

The Rev. Devon Anderson of Minnesota, chair of the domestic policy committee, closed the hearing by thanking those who testified and the more than 100 people who attended.

“Thank you for proclamations of hope and possibility for a presence of our church in the world around advocating for immigrants in our communities,” she said.

Committee deliberations on the resolutions are scheduled for the morning of July 9.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at


Comments (28)

  1. Ronald Davin says:

    All well and good, but what is the Churches policy towards helping the 5000 Gold Star Children, (kids missing a parent, separated from a parent), forever because a parent died in service to our Country. Surely these children are of equal importance at least.

    1. Bryon Schmitt says:

      I think your response denotes sarcasm and not so much a Christian consern for the crimes against humanity that are being perpetrated by this presidents administration. I think though in support of your point a resolution supporting an end to foreign interventions and bring our troops home and close about half of our foreign military bases. If we can take our boys out of harms way we can prevent their children being orphaned. In the words of Jimmy Carter, war is sometimes a necessary evil but it is always evil. Bring them home, and don’t insult their blood sacrifice by using them to defend the assault on humanity on our border as so many people are doing these days.

      1. william dailey says:

        My sense is that the Church agrees with you. Enforcing our laws on the border is a “crime against humanity”. All church members who believe that they have rights superior to the illegals should understand that they are of no concern to the Church. That train has left the station!!

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          Wait, you think you have more rights than “illegals?” Are they less human than you? Do you not see the problem with your statement? And no, the crime against humanity is not defending the border, but ripping families apart for a misdemeanor offense (assuming they did cross illegally).

  2. C033 in part clearly crosses the line into the ridiculous. The US cannot become the haven for the world. Look at what is happening in Europe. Original cultures are being eroded day by day. C033 advocates for law breakers. Legal immigration is one thing, illegal immigration is a whole other and of which the Episcopal Church seems to approve. EC membership is falling. Do you wonder why?

    1. Debbie scott says:

      I think we need to be clear the issue is illegal immigration. Fight for more refugee programs or maybe we need to intervene in Central America so people can stay in their countries. What can we do to help all the people in Central America. Better government address the drug epedemic here which causes many of those countries to ship us illegal drugs?

  3. Robert Carrillo says:

    OK Mr. & Mrs Do-Good.

    No borders? = No Sovereignty and no USA! No Borders = Cuba – Venezuala – Salvador – Honduras – Mexico – Guatemala – Syria – Iran – Turkey – Afghanistan – Somalia – What IS becoming of western Europe, the UK, and even Canada now – and all the rest.. NO USA any longer…

    So, to all of you… Your form of payment will be, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express? Well, pony up! Put YOUR wallet where your mouth is!

    1. boyd conklin says:

      “Episcopal Migration Ministries, which is not a separate non-profit organization but is embedded in the Episcopal Church itself, is 99.5% funded by the federal government—that would be you, the taxpayer.”

    2. Matt Ouellette says:

      I’m getting tired of conservatives making this ridiculous argument. Opposing the cruel immigration policies of this administration is not support for open borders. No major progressive group has proposed that as a solution, so please stop making that disingenuous claim. All we want are more humane immigration policies. Surely there must be more options than cruel immigration policies and open borders.

      1. If you step back a bit, I am wondering why there is a need for any immigration. Seems we have enough poverty in the US to work on. The US cannot be the haven for the world and this is not 200 years ago. Population growth without limit is a formula for disaster. Just look at the countries that have done just that.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          I don’t see why we can’t live up to the motto 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!” That doesn’t mean we have to let everyone into this country, but I don’t see why we should discourage immigration, especially when it benefits our economy.

  4. Charles Pierce says:

    The so call policy is in fact a law that was passed in 1997 under then President Clinton. Like most laws it should be enforced. Do not like the law have congress change the law.
    The number of Children separated by the Federal ICE agency so far this year represent the number of children separated from the custodial parent in the 50 states every 3 days. If you are going to preach against a process at least do some research into that process before you speak.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      No, this policy was not started under any previous administration. The zero tolerance policy occurred under Trump, not Obama, not Bush, not Clinton:

      1. Charles Pierce says:

        In truth we do not know, if President Obama administration did or did not separate children from parents. It appears that no records were kept. 48,000 illegal border crossing immigrant were referred for prosecution. The administration either did not enforce the law and allowed the individual to jails with the child or they broke the law.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          Do you have any sources on that (and I mean reliable sources, not biased ones like Fox News or Breitbart)? I am very skeptical that what you said has happened.

          1. Charles Pierce says:

            Go do some research into the DOJ and DHS web sites for statistics on such matters. I will not do your research for you. And if you do not research you comments have no validity.

  5. John McCraney says:

    The opening section of this article should at least state the facts. The
    Trump administration’s stance is against ILLEGAL immigration, not all immigration. Misrepresentation of basic facts such as this cause me to doubt the accuracy of the rest of the article.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      No, it isn’t just illegal immigration. Trump has also stated he wants to reduce legal immigration as well:

  6. David Horwath says:

    Just a few questions on the discussion of illegal aliens:
    1. What part of the word “illegal” do you not understand?
    2. What makes these illegal aliens so good that they do not have to follow the same rules that my grandparents followed immigrating from Hungary and Italy?
    3. Why should we sacrifice our economy, jobs and culture for illegals?

    Before you automatically call me a Nazi, a xenophobe or a hater, answer the questions. I live in south Texas and I see first hand the laws of supply and demand weakening the American working population and I am watching the annual increase in taxes to pay for hospital and school districts and municipal services. Perhaps the Episcopal Church should be asking what to do about the declining Episcopal membership before advocating for more illegal aliens.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      1) Illegal border crossing is a misdemeanor, not a felony. Surely ripping children from their parents is an extreme punishment for a misdemeanor, right?
      2) Many immigrants in the past also came here without following all our laws, and those groups were also hated and scapegoated like today:‘you-walked-right-’-‘illegal’-and-‘undocumented’-irish-immigrants-historical
      3) We aren’t sacrificing any of that for immigration. Immigrant s make our economy stronger, not weaker:

      1. Charles Pierce says:

        What is a felony is to work with out a Social Security Number. How do these folks propose to support themselves if they can not work. The can not receive SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid. Illegal immigrants do not make the economy stronger they weaken it by depressing wages and benefits.BTW because someone else did it sound like me trying to convince my Mother that what I did was not so bad.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          Well, the evidence does not back up your claims about the negative impact of immigration on the economy. Also, there has been a net decrease in illegal migration anyways:

          And we are talking about separating children from asylum-seekers, not people using false SSN’s. Hopefully we can at least agree that it is cruel to take the children of asylum-seekers away from their parents, right?

          1. Charles Pierce says:

            Every state in the Union will remove the children from a home when the custodial parent is taken to jail. The children will be places first with a relative, if one can be found, or in a group home, or a foster home. The ignorance of arguing that these children coming across the border are different for the Children of citizens is beyond the pale. I do not hear complaints about the citizen children being removed.

          2. Charles Pierce says:

            The illegal workers are cheaper because the employer does not have pay social security taxes, workman’s comp or unemployment insurance. That is why people want them.

  7. cynthia seddon says:

    Many illegals have sent their children alone to the border, so do not blame Trump for all
    separations. Parents who are willing to risk their children in such a way are putting them in much more danger.We as a country need to make sure that the needy citizens , veterans homeless etc are also cared for. Legal immigration is the best solution,and stop the pity parties for those disregarding laws. Many churches are doing great work in caring for migrants
    who come legally for work in the harvest industry.

  8. Jeff Zelem says:

    Hysterical. Nobody mentions the monetary aspect as 99.5% of the $$’s used to support the Episcopal refugee group is federally funded….ie: taxpayer. Which is forced donations to something many people don’t support. In addition to the fact that most refugees end up on assisted living, welfare, etc etc for many years….even generations. These are facts as actual numbers don’t lie!
    Sure, this helps the illegals ( although I do wonder where so many get the money to pay the smugglers. How does someone from Bangladesh or Syria emigrate thru Mexico??? Hell, I couldn’t afford the airfare!). This doesn’t help the US as a whole which can’t even support its own! And with more automation coming, where are the jobs to support those that actually MIGHT want to work??
    Diseases that had essentially been eradicated in the US are on the upswing…so immigrants bring that cultural enrichment along. Yeah, yeah…I know…I must be racist because we can all see how greatly the invaders….er, refugees, are helping Europeans flourish. Hell, England has acid attacks now! That’s some serious cultural enrichment! And rape is thru the roof! So…hurray for the third world!
    No, this is about “how I make MY life better”! Perpetual welfare for the migrants and perpetual federal donations to the coffers of the church and her employees!
    Sweet! C’mon, just call it what it is!

    1. Jeff Zelem says:

      Oh, one more thing. Alot of you people were the same ones who cheered along while our military destabilized or outright destroyed many of these same people’s countries. I know because many times I was the only one in my church voicing these concerns while everyone in the congregation was praying for “our boys & girls in uniform”! Better we had let these people attend to their own nations. And now you want to just bring everyone in???
      How about this- come in and serve? My grandfather had his ass thrown right into World War I soon after he emigrated (legally). And NO WELFARE EITHER!!!
      Earn IT!!!

    2. Bill Hemp says:

      Bravo, very well stated! From a proud, but concerned retired vet!

Comments are closed.