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Faith Leaders and Religious Groups Voice Opposition to Biden’s Plan to Restrict Asylum

In a March 23 letter, a coalition of 130 faith organizations representing different religions and denominations urged Biden not to reinstate family detention and called on him to reconsider proposed asylum restrictions.

“We’re concerned that the proposed asylum rule may exacerbate the issues prevalent in detention, around access to counsel and due process. It’s plain to see that these policies will sow confusion and instill fear,” the coalition wrote.

The coalition included Hope Border Institute, Church of the Ascension, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society.

The Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, who serves as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, has also been outspoken about this proposed rule, saying it is a “significant step backwards at a time when we really need meaningful reform.”

“It is also a policy that perpetuates the misguided notion that heavy-handed enforcement measures are somehow a solution to the realities at the border,” Seitz said in a statement.

Seitz added: “The Catholic Church in the United States has consistently rejected policies that weaken asylum access for those most in need of relief and expose them to further danger.”

RELATED: The State of the Immigrant Church

The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, another of the faith-based resettlement agencies that contract with the federal government, worked with partners in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition to launch a public comment campaign to mobilize opposition to the Biden’s administration’s proposed rule.

“Voices from the faith community spoke with moral clarity when the prior administration attempted to ban asylum, and today we continue the fight,” said Jill Marie Bussey, director for public policy at LIRS, in a statement.

The public comments, which appear on a federal database, include the voices of priests and ordinary people of faith opposed to Biden’s plan.

Karen Scherer, who is identified as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, wrote, “Walking alongside people who have fled their homes and people who need help is a core commitment as a Christian living out teachings of our faith. The right to seek asylum is an essential protection for people seeking safety from persecution.”

Michael Wallens, a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, said he’s “concerned as a person of faith and an American that our nation is not living up to the commitment to be a beacon of liberty and hope for all people.”

Wallens said he’s part of the Rio Grande Borderland Ministries that serves along the border from Big Bend National Park in West Texas to the Arizona state line.

“I believe this proposed rule would put families and other vulnerable migrants seeking protection along the U.S. southern border in further danger,” Wallens wrote.

The Rev. Karleen Jung, a Lutheran pastor serving two congregations in the Louisville, Kentucky, area, wrote in opposition to the proposed measure, citing a long history in the Lutheran church “of welcoming in and re-settling refugee families, including asylum seekers.”

“We have done this, not only because of the traditions of our faith, but also because of the traditions of our nation as a refuge and haven for the persecuted and destitute,” Jung wrote.

“This proposed rule is heartless and not at all consistent with my values as pastor and believer, and as a U.S. citizen,” she added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared here.