Agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) see this first hand.
The president, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen have asked ICE agents to enforce laws, many issued by executive order, that diverse religious leaders in the United States have deemed immoral.
"The Administration continues to take significant and dangerous steps that are eroding the foundations of the immigration system and the international law that upholds access to asylum for those fleeing danger and violence. These practices of separating families, increasing immigrant detention, and redefining access to asylum are abhorrent and undermine our values," states the national offices of the United Church of Christ.
Trauma caused to children separated from their parents in support of these policies may be irreversible. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that "studies of detained immigrants, primarily from abroad, have found negative physical and emotional symptoms among detained children, and posttraumatic symptoms do not always disappear at the time of release."
Even though a U.S. court has ruled that children be reunited with their parents, the Trump Administration has failed to meet their obligations.
On March 8, 2017, on the website HuffPost, I argued ICE agents should resign rather than enforce immoral laws. Since that time the administration's disregard for the fundamental human rights of immigrants has only grown.
Today I repeat that call and ask all ICE agents to prayerfully consider whether or not your work on behalf of the federal government is consistent with your own faith beliefs – along with the underlying commitment all law enforcement officers should have to the rule of law and human rights.
"Too often individuals respond to moral conflict by denying responsibility with excuses such as ‘following orders,' ‘no choice,' or ‘not my job.' The existence of the option to resign prevents them from exculpating themselves with such excuses," wrote J. Patrick Dobel in his paper The Ethics of Resigning. "The option to resign means that the theoretical linkage of personal responsibility and position is real."
More and more clergy from various faith backgrounds have been risking arrest at ICE facilities to demonstrate the fierce urgency of reuniting children with their parents, ending unjust policies, and promoting comprehensive immigration reform that reflects America's best principles.
As the enforcers of unjust laws, I say as a minister ordained to preach and teach the Gospel that to be on the side of true justice ICE agents must take personal responsibility and resign or take other tangible action consistent with principled resistance to end the suffering ICE's enforcement is causing.