Faith Leaders Respond to Cruel and Inhumane Immigration Tactics

For Immediate Release: September 19, 2022
Contact: Colleen Ross, [email protected], 202-601-7877

Faith Leaders Respond to Cruel and Inhumane Immigration Tactics
Mary J. Novak: “Last week’s events were viscerally disturbing to me because Governor DeSantis professes to share the same Roman Catholic faith as me.”

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ recent actions to transport asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, national faith leaders spoke out against the immoral and inhumane deception these migrants experienced.

“Last week’s events were viscerally disturbing to me because Governor DeSantis professes to share the same Roman Catholic faith as me,” said Mary J. Novak, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. She continued, “Pope Francis said ‘the phenomenon of migration can become a sign of conflict, or a sign of peace. It depends on us.’ I call on my fellow Catholics, especially those in elected office, to take those words to heart.”

“Instead of following the biblical mandate found throughout the Old Testament and Jesus’ clear commandment in Matthew 25 to welcome the stranger – these Governors are not only turning them away- they are removing them from the very places where the legal proceedings for asylum are meant to take place,” said Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, President of Sojourners. He continued, “Most recently, Governor DeSantis’s doubling down demonstrates just how out of touch he is with the best of our civic and religious values. In contrast, the outpouring of compassion and support that churches and people in Martha’s Vineyard extended to the 50 migrants who landed on their island last week shows the best of our civic and religious values.”

“I am a Floridian, I am a pastor in Florida, so we serve many of these communities,” said Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President and Founder of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and Pastor of The Gathering Place. He continued, “A large number of the people who were sent by Governor DeSantis to Martha’s Vineyard are Venezuelan. We’ve seen their stories, fleeing the economic and political upheaval of Venezuela. We, who in this country remember the quote of Emma Lazarus, ‘Bring me your poor, your hungry, your tired, your tempest-tost;’ it seems that we’ve changed our commitment to receiving those people.”

“The decision by Governors Abbott, DeSantis, and Ducey to send planeloads and busloads of asylum-seekers to far-flung cities, by many accounts under false pretenses or with inadequate or misleading information, is a grave moral and policy failing.” said Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. She continued, “None of this lives up to the teaching found across faith traditions that every individual is created in the image of the Divine; that every individual is worthy of dignity and respect.”

“There’s nothing faithful and there’s certainly nothing Catholic about using people – vulnerable people – as just political props. This stands in opposition to Jesus’ clear teaching to love your neighbor,” said Rev. Jim Wallis, Director of Center on Faith and Justice and inaugural chair in Faith and Justice at the McCourt School of Public Policy. He continued “Some of these governors and their ilk talk about ‘fake news’ all the time. I say to use vulnerable people as political props – that’s fake faith.”


NETWORK – advocates for justice inspired by Catholic Sisters – educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation. With a 50-year record of accomplishment and more than 100,000 supporters across the country, NETWORK lobbies for federal programs and policies that support those at the margins and prioritize the common good.