Mailbag: Religious leaders concerned about ICE

We are writing to you as local ministers and Laguna Beach residents. We are writing to you because we are concerned about the way immigrants are treated and spoken about in America today. Yes, this is an issue of federal law, which Washington will one day deal with. But it is also an issue on the streets of downtown Laguna Beach. Here in our town, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have detained several people suspected of being illegal immigrants.

We are concerned about families and those most vulnerable in our community. When immigrants are detained or deported, they are often separated from family members who depend on them for basic needs. Detention and deportation shatters families who have made America their home.

We are concerned about the safety of our community. In Arizona, and now, much of Orange County, laws are being written that require police officers to enforce federal immigration laws. To some that might sound like a move toward more security; however, those laws actually increase crime. Those laws make the entire immigrant community suspicious of the police. Without a relationship with the community they serve, the police find it nearly impossible to collect information necessary to prevent crime. Also, the additional burden of enforcing federal immigration law distracts from the work of providing for basic public safety. Since the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, crime has increased significantly.

We are concerned about families, we are concerned about the security of our community, and we are concerned about the type of world we build when exclusion is the order of the day. Immigration is not only a political issue, it is also a moral issue.

Both Hebrew and Christian scriptures admonish us to welcome the stranger. Hebrew scriptures, recalling the oppression the children of Israel suffered as foreigners, teach us to love the stranger, the outsider. The Book of Leviticus instructs, "You shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt."

Jesus and his followers went beyond welcoming the foreigner to the more radical practice of welcoming the marginalized: children, women, tax collectors, the poor, lepers, prostitutes, even enemies. In Jesus' vision of the Kingdom of God, there are no foreigners.

The Buddhist tradition arrives at a similar place by a different road. In some ways the Buddhist perspective is the most radical. Buddhism teaches that the very distinction between one group and another, between insider and outsider, between citizen and alien is an illusion. We are all deeply related at the very core of our being, and the great end in religious life is to discover and embrace that connection.

Unitarian Universalists talk about the inherent worth and dignity of every person. They believe that every person counts, regardless of race, nationality, sexual orientation, physical ability or any other contrived barrier. The religious journey is living a life that honors the dignity of the stranger in our midst.

As ministers and Laguna Beach residents, we are deeply concerned about immigration enforcement. As the topic of immigration comes to the fore of our political consciousness, we simply ask you to keep your eyes and ears open.

Let us form our opinions based not on fear, but on fact. Let us listen not just to voices that echo our own, but learn from a variety of sources. Let us move forward not in fear and assumption, but in discernment and compassion. And together we can bring about a meaningful answer to the challenge of immigration justice.

The Rev. Kent Doss

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach

The Rev. B.J. Beu

Neighborhood Congregational Church

Candidate's record at issue

The recent call by [Emanuel] Patrascu to change the "staleness of City Hall" ("Patrascu confirms candidacy," July 9) has me wondering about what exactly he brings to the party.

Our complex city requires seasoned candidates, experienced with community issues and challenges. What exactly has Patrascu done to warrant our considering him as a serious candidate?


Laguna Beach

Veterans grateful for Pageant treat

Big thanks go to the board of the Festival of Arts and June Neptune of Tivoli Terrace restaurant for providing a wonderful evening for 100 veterans and their support staff July 12. This year the Laguna Beach American Legion and VFW Posts invited veterans from Long Beach, Loma Linda and San Diego Veterans Hospitals and from the Barstow and Chula Vista Veterans Homes to attend the famous Pageant of the Masters and dinner at Tivoli Terrace. Our fellow veterans never fail to be amazed and appreciative of this special Laguna Beach hospitality. Thanks so much.


Laguna Beach

Editor's note: Frank Daniel is a commander for American Legion Post 222.


Laguna Beach

Editor's note: Bill Sandline is a commander for VFW Post 5868.

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