Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:3-4).
Dear servants of God, in this holy month of Ramadan, I appeal to you to come together and stand against fear. Fear is a soul ravaging experience, it not only sucks the life out of a person but it also drains the fearful of their dignity and humanity. As servants of God, we need to come together and resist this epidemic of fear that has been unleashed in our nation, that not only threatens to tear apart immigrant families, but also the very fabric of our society.
The Quran teaches us that for those who are friends of God, there is neither fear nor grief (Quran 10:62). Our only fear is that we may disobey or displease God. I want to alert all of you, who speak to and for God, that we are in danger of displeasing God by not standing up for the oppressed.
In President Trumps’ first hundred days, from January to April of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have arrested an estimated 41,300 undocumented immigrants, an increase of 40 percent since last year. And 10,845 of those immigrants had no criminal history. The increase in these non-criminal arrests is a shocking 156 percent.
The message is, we shall not differentiate between good guys and bad guys, we will get you all.
The arrests and deportations are scary, but this is not new. Deportations were happening under the previous administration too. What is new and different now is the attendant atmosphere of fear that has been generated by the new national rhetoric that not only demonizes immigrants, foreigners, Muslims and people of color, but also promises that things will only get worse from here on.
The man in charge is retired Marine General John Kelly the head of DHS, who thinks he is at war with immigrants. When criticized by members of Congress he asked them to change the laws or “shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.’’ He sees his operations against immigrants as sending his men and women to the frontline. Thomas Homan, the man in charge of ICE actually announced that undocumented immigrants must live in terror of deportation.
In addition to Kelly’s and Homan’s rhetoric and actions, such as the raids in California and Texas designed more to trigger fear than make any significant dent in the immigrant population, the President himself continues to signal his ruthless posture towards immigrants. His threats to deprive immigrants of welfare, his persistent efforts at trying to get his “Muslim ban” approved by the courts, all signal that the hate and intolerance he showed towards immigrants during his campaign, persists.
Immigrants in general, but the undocumented ones who are generally poor, underpaid, overworked, often unaware of their rights and unsure how to get legal help, are terrified by such rhetoric. They feel the might of the US is now at war with them.
They are afraid to step out of their homes. Children are afraid to go to schools. Seeking and pursuing employment has become a risk. Many eligible for food stamps are foregoing that for fear of being arrested and deported. General Kelly has threatened to separate children from their families in order to combat migration, And now children fear for their parents, and parents fear for their kids. Rising hate crimes indicate that they must fear not only the state but also hate groups as the nation itself becomes a safe space for racists.
How can people, who claim to serve a benevolent, forgiving and merciful God stand by and watch this travesty?
I beseech, I plead, nay I demand, that the houses of God in our state and in our nation, open their doors to those who are in fear, comfort them, inform them, support them and promise them that we will fight for them. Do not hesitate, speak up. Silence and inaction is collusion. We must act now. Reach out to the vulnerable and provide comfort now. One more day spent in fear, is one too many.
In Delaware, elected leaders like Matt Meyer, the County Executive of New Castle County have already made the County a safe community. Let us work to make the rest of the state safe for all and become a beacon for the rest of the nation.
I am convinced that this atrocity can best be addressed by faith leaders coming together and standing up with and for our undocumented neighbors, to building safe communities for all.
What more can I say; “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
PS. Network Delaware, a grass roots organization that seeks to build safe communities for all Delawareans is coordinating this effort in Delaware. Please contact at Tel: 302-464-0149 or Email: info@thenetworkDe.org.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is a Professor at the University of Delaware, a Senior Fellow with the Center for Global Policy and President of the Delaware Council of Global and Muslim Affairs. His website is www.ijtihad.org.