MCC photo/Saulo Padilla

MCC U.S. executive director J Ron Byler, foreground, walks along the U.S.-Mexico border west of Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Mexico. Board and staff members spent June 21 visiting MCC partners before meeting at Shalom Mennonite Fellowship in Tucson. 

MCC has signed onto this statement with InterAction, an alliance of more than 80 nongovernmental organizations. The statement was sent to leaders of both parties in Congress on June 21 in response to the White House’s policy of prosecuting asylum seekers and detaining children and families at the U.S.-Mexico border:

Dear Speaker Ryan and Leaders McConnell, Pelosi and Schumer:

We write today to urge Congress to take immediate and decisive action to end the Administration’s policy of prosecuting asylum seekers and detaining children and families at the U.S. / Mexico border. Any such action should also immediately reunify children who were separated from their parents by previous Administration orders. Mass detention of families is unconscionable, regardless of the legal status of migrants, and prosecuting asylum seekers is a direct violation of their legal rights under U.S. law and treaties to which the U.S. is a ratified party.

InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based development and humanitarian NGOs. As organizations who have supported or directly delivered assistance to displaced persons and other vulnerable populations overseas, we know both the unique challenges and responsibilities that host governments and communities face. Based on our experience, we believe there is no challenge that could possibly justify mass detention of migrant families. The U.S. has spoken out against very similar practices by other countries. This cruel and inhumane practice undermines our moral standing internationally – particularly with other countries that are hosting refugees and asylum seekers.

The trauma caused to children and families seeking refuge in our nation by these policies will have ramifications for generations to come. On an individual level, children who undergo detention or have been forcibly separated from their families experience toxic stress that can profoundly and permanently impact their mental, physical, and emotional development. Any remedial action taken by the Administration or Congress should also seek to address the psychosocial support needs of children and families traumatized by such separation and detention.

Over 2,000 families were forcibly torn apart in the past six weeks. Thousands of separated children are still being held in tent cities or other deplorable detention facilities by U.S. authorities. Asylum seekers have been prosecuted in direct violation of U.S. law and treaty commitments. Ending separation of new arrivals only addresses one aspect of this cruel and inhumane policy while allowing others to continue. If the Administration fails to immediately end and remediate its unacceptable policies, it is up to Congress to stop these injustices that undermine our identity as a nation.

1. Lucy Martinez Sullivan, Executive Director, 1,000 Days
2. Andrea Tamburini, Chief Executive Officer, Action Against Hunger
3. Jonathan Duffy, President, ADRA International
4. Steven J. Smith, President and CEO, Airlink
5. Melanie Greenberg, President and CEO, Alliance for Peacebuilding
6. Robert Bank, President and CEO, American Jewish World Service
7. Michael J. Nyenhuis, President and CEO, Americares
8. Robert Kelty, Executive Director, Amref Health Africa US
9. Emily Arnold-Fernandez, Executive Director, Asylum Access
10. Elana Berger, Executive Director, Bank Information Center
11. Dan Stoner, Board Chair, Basic Education Coaltion
12. Chris Palusky, President and CEO, Bethany Christian Services
13. Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World
14. Elizabeth Hausler, Founder and CEO, Build Change
15. Michelle Nunn, President and CEO, CARE USA
16. Polly Byers, Executive Director, CDA Collaborative Learning
17. Serra Sippel, President, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
18. J. Daryl Byler, Executive Director, Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University
19. Nancy Press, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Child Aid
20. Anne Lynam Goddard, President and CEO, ChildFund International
21. Colleen Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Concern Worldwide US
22. Lisa Hilmi, Executive Director, CORE Group
23. Osman Dulgeroglu, Chief Executive Officer, Embrace Relief Foundation
24. Robert W. Radtke, President and CEO, Episcopal Relief & Development
25. Carol Miller, Founding Partner, Five Heads Strategic Communications
26. Gary Edmonds, President and CEO, Food for the Hungry
27. Andrew Albertson, Executive Director, Foreign Policy for America
28. Chris Collins, President, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
29. Sean Lawrence, Executive Director, Giving Children Hope
30. David A. Weiss, President and CEO, Global Communities
31. Dr. Rebecca S. Hage Thomley, Chief Executive Officer, Headwaters Relief Organization
32. James Mitchum, Chief Executive Officer, Heart to Heart International
33. Kathy Spahn, President and CEO, Helen Keller International
34. Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, HIAS
35. Jeff Meer, US Executive Director, Humanity & Inclusion
36. Thomas Dente, Chief Executive Officer, Humentum
37. Judith A. Hermanson, President and CEO, IHC Global
38. Dr. Linda Pfeiffer, President and CEO, INMED Partnerships for Children
39. Samuel A. Worthington, Chief Executive Officer, InterAction
40. Victoria M. Sheffield, President and CEO, International Eye Foundation
41. Barry La Forgia, Executive Director, International Relief Teams
42. David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee
43. William S. Reese, Chief Executive Officer, International Youth Foundation
44. Sharif Aly, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Relief USA
45. Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
46. Charles J. Hooker, IIII, President and CEO, Keystone Human Services
47. Amb. Daniel V. Speckhard (rt.), President and CEO, Lutheran World Relief
48. J. Ron Byler, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
49. Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps
50. Umar al-Qadi, President and CEO, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
51. Joel R. Charny, Executive Director, Norwegian Refugee Council USA
52. Abby Maxman, President and CEO, Oxfam America
53. Steve Davis, President and CEO, PATH
54. Tessie San Martin, President and CEO, Plan International USA
55. Ester Neltrup, President and CEO, Planet Aid
56. Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness, Director, Compassion, Peace and Justice Minstry, Presbyterian Mission Agency
57. Dr. Tom Kenyon, CEO and Chief Medical Officer, Project HOPE
58. Eric Schwartz, President, Refugees International
59. Nancy E. Wilson, President and CEO, Relief International
60. Joanne Carter, Executive Director, RESULTS
61. Rod Brooks, President and CEO, Rise Against Hunger
62. Emily Vargas-Baron, Director, RISE Institute
63. Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children
64. Shawna Bader-Blau, Executive Director, Solidarity Center
65. Mishelle Rudzinski, Executive Director, SPOON
66. Clint Borgen, President, The Borgen Project
67. Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken, Director, Transnational NGO Initiative, Syracuse University
68. Eskinder Negash, President and CEO, U.S.Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
69. Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO, UNICEF USA
70. Roland Fernandes, Treasurer, United Methodist Committee on Relief
71. Chris Whatley, Executive Director, United Nations Association of the United States
72. Anne-Marie Grey, Executive Director and CEO, USA for UNHCR
73. Dianne Calvi, Chief Executive Officer, Village Enterprise
74. Michael Deal, President & CEO, Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA)
75. Lynn Malooly, Executive Director, Water for South Sudan
76. Sarina Prabasi, Chief Executive Officer, WaterAid
77. Elizabeth McGovern, Executive Director, WEEMA International
78. Emily Bove, Executive Director, Women Thrive Alliance
79. Sarah Costa, Executive Director, Women's Refugee Commission
80. John Lyon, President, World Hope International
81. Anita Shafer Aaron, Executive Director and CEO, World Institute on Disability
82. Carol Bremer-Bennett, Executive Director, World Renew
83. Richard Stearns, President, World Vision U.S.
84. Halil Demir, Executive Director, Zakat Foundation of America