Letter: Faith Leaders Call on Legislature to Pass Sanctuary Bill Before Ending Session

House Judiciary Chairman Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore City). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Dear Senate President Bill Ferguson, House Speaker Adrienne Jones, Senate Judicial Proceedings Chairman William Smith, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Luke Clippinger: 

We leaders of over 50 faith-based organizations and places of worship write with urgency to call for your support and leadership in passing the Maryland Trust Act (SB 901). The Trust Act is crucial legislation that will stop our state’s participation in the unjust targeting of immigrants and undocumented persons by limiting state and local police cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, creating policies to make places like schools and hospitals safer for immigrants, and building community trust and safety for all.

Our faith communities, united together, feel deeply that this legislation aligns with our collective belief that we must care for our neighbors, regardless of their country of origin or pathway to residing here in Maryland. Our ethical and theological commitments compel us to publicly call for our legislators to act boldly and courageously to protect marginalized community members whose safety is our collective responsibility, especially now during the COVID-19 crisis.

We have grieved over the countless stories in our communities of parents who have been stripped away from their families, immigrants who have been abused and neglected in the poor conditions of immigration facilities, victims of crimes who are denied justice out of fear of deportation, sick people who are scared to seek medical care, and children who are left without parents. Our churches, synagogues, mosques, and organizations have done our part to provide a sanctuary for our neighbors, but our state must act as well.

The current administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies deeply trouble us, as they destroy family unity and stray far from our core moral responsibilities as people of faith. The displacement of people caused by war, violence, and persecution have resulted in thousands of people who come to our nation seeking relief — many forced to live without documentation.

It is overdue for the General Assembly to act to protect our immigrant neighbors. Police collaboration with ICE has led to hostile environments for people of color and an increase in racial profiling that is simply wrong. We are disheartened and disturbed by the lack of moral leadership regarding policies to protect immigrants in our state, and ask that the General Assembly wait no longer to take action.

In this moment, where you are prioritizing legislation to pass before Sine Die on Wednesday, we ask that you consider not only the moral obligation we have to love and protect our neighbors, but also the safety of the community as a whole.

When victims and witnesses of crimes cannot trust the police and seek their protection, we all suffer the consequences. When people are afraid to seek treatment when ill, we all suffer the consequences. We will only restore public safety by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve – please keep our local and state law enforcement out of civil immigration enforcement.

We must match the determination of those who seek to dehumanize immigrants with our own persistent, steadfast love of our neighbors. Legislators, don’t hesitate any longer. Pass the Maryland Trust Act now.

Sincerely,

The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland 

Jews United for Justice 

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd 

Bonimot Tzedek “Justice Builders,” Habonim Dror Camp Moshava

Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church Immigrant Justice Ministry

Congregation Action Network

Frederick Friends Meeting

Columbia Jewish Congregation

Rev. Kobi Little, Justice Chapel

Rabbi David Shneyer, Am Kolel Jewish Renewal Community & Kehila Chadasha 

Pastor Kevin Hart, Christian Tabernacle Church

Rev. Stephen Green, Heard AME Church

Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, Interfaith Coalition of Greater Baltimore

Rev. Paige Getty, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia

Rabbi Doug Heifetz, Congregation Beit Tikvah of Baltimore

Pastor Cynthia Lapp, Hyattsville Mennonite Church

Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg, Beth Am Synagogue

Rev. Holly R. Jackson, United Church of Christ of Seneca Valley

Rev. Karen Lee Scrivo, Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Rabbi Ariana Katz, Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebel

Rabbi Warren Stone, Kensington

Rev. Norman Allen, Davies Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Rabbi Rory Katz, Chevrei Tzedek

Rev. Amanda Poppei, Washington Ethical Society 

Pastor Stephen Price, First Baptist Church of Hyattsville 

Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd, River Road UU Congregation

Rev. John Burns, University Baptist Church

Rev. James Cascotti, S.J., St. Ignatius Church Baltimore

Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister, Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalists 

Rev. Rachel Christensen, Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Minister Linda Miller, All Saints’ Episcopal Church

Rev. Dr. James Carl Gregg, Unitarian Universalist Congregations of Frederick

Rev. Angela M. Wells, Silver Spring United Methodist Church

Rev. Julie Wilson, Taylorsville United Methodist Church

Rabbi Andy Gordon, Bolton Street Synagogue 

Father Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, Saint Camillus Church Silver Spring 

Rev. Charles Booker, Bethesda Presbyterian Church

Rabbi Sonia Starr, Columbia Jewish Congregatio

Cantor Dr. Ramón Tasat, Shirat Hanefesh Congregation

Sister Marie Lucey, Franciscan Action Network

Rev. Dr. Eliezer Valentín-Castañón, Trinity United Methodist Church

Rabbi Jeremy Kridel, Machar, The Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism

Rabbi Gilah Langner, Shirat HaNefesh, Chevy Chase

Rev. Pat Shannon Jones, RCWP, Living Water Community

Rev. Charlene Belsom Zellmer, Sanctuary for Rosa at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church

Rev. M. Michael Morse, United Church of Christ (Retired)

Sea Raven, D.Min., Frederick, Maryland

Rev. Patricia Abell, Saint James United Methodist Church

Rev. Cynthia Horn Burkert (retired), United Methodist Church

Rev. Kenneth B Hawes, Fairhaven United Methodist Church 

Rev. Julia A. Jarvis, United Church of Christ 

Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block; Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Rabbi Jessy Dressin, Repair the World

Rabbi Elizabeth Richman, Jews United for Justice

Father Ty S. Hullinger, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Dominic & Most Precious Blood, Baltimore

Maurice Nick, House of Prayer Church of God

Rabbi Rory Katz, Chevrei Tzedek Congregation

Rabbi Alana Suski, Pomegranate Initiative