More than 900 people have signed on to a letter to President Barack Obama from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons urging the president and two key government officials not to appeal the July 24th court decision of Judge Dolly Gee. Gee serves on the United States District Court for the Central District of California and her ruling would release thousands of mothers and children from family detention facilities across the country. The letter, below, also is addressed to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

August 3, 2015

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Attorney General Loretta Lynch
950 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC  20530

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson
Nebraska Avenue Center, NW
Washington, DC  20528

We, the undersigned of the faith community, write to ask that you do not appeal the July 24th decision of Judge Dolly Gee, which ordered the release of children and their mothers from family detention. This is your Administration’s chance to walk away from a cruel and failing strategy to contain and control the flight of refugees.

At every step, the policy of family detention has failed to prove itself lawful or just. First, the policy of categorizing women and children as threats to national security failed to prevail in the District Court of the District of Columbia. As a result, Immigration and Customs Enforcement must now allow women and children individualized bond determinations. In the present case, even with their soccer fields and Spanish-language children’s books, the Central District of California has found the use of the family detention centers in Berks County, Pennsylvania and Karnes City and Dilley, Texas, in material breach of a legal agreement governing the treatment of migrant children and has ordered the release of children and mothers. At every step this Administration is losing the legal argument for maintaining family detention. It is time to walk away.

It is also time to walk away before your Administration loses its moral credibility. This country has signed the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. We welcome tens of thousands of refugees each year. Through our robust refugee program, the public has learned the value and beauty of being a refugee receiving country. This Administration’s treatment of persons seeking protection from Central America flies in the face of how we understand ourselves as global neighbors. For the undersigned, these families represent our faith ancestors. They are like Jochebed sending her baby, Moses, down the Nile in a reed basket, and the Hebrews bravely trusting in God and fleeing Egypt. It is time this Administration treats these women and children, not as a threat, but as persons seeking protection. It is time this Administration walks away from family detention. We ask that you do this by not appealing Judge Gee’s decision.


Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)