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Ecumenical vigil opposes Trump immigration policy

A worshiper prays during a vigil of prayer

A worshiper prays during a vigil of prayer and unity at the North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson, June 24, 2018. Credit: Johnny Milano

Worshippers of varied faiths came together in Port Jefferson Station on Sunday to speak against the practice of separating children from their families during border-crossing arrests, decrying the policy as inhumane.

Rabbi Aaron Benson of the North Shore Jewish Center, the site of the ecumenical one-hour vigil of prayer and unity attended by more than 100 people, said the issue transcends politics and is one of human rights.

“Our nation can do better than enact policy that insults and injures the humanity of all involved,” he said, adding that the United States is a nation of laws, but should not be “a nation of cruelty.”

“That should not be a controversial notion.”

Those who spoke also rejected the notion that a Bible passage could be used in support of the policy, citing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ comments in a news conference earlier this month.

“We link arms . . . objecting when scripture is used to justify an abuse rather than claim love,” said the Rev. Kate Jones Calone of Setauket Presbyterian and president of the Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association.

Congregants sang John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” and several prayers were offered for children at the border, including “Plegarias” by Luis Angel Castro, which was read in Spanish and English.

President Donald Trump reversed the policy of separating children from parents who cross illegally at the Mexico border on Wednesday, though many migrant children, including 116 children housed at the MercyFirst shelter in Syosset, remain apart from their parents.

Those at Sunday’s vigil said they remained outraged over the policy and felt it important to show support for immigrants.

“I’m heartbroken about what’s happening to these children and it’s beyond belief that the president of the United States is trying to justify it,” said Jerry Fine of Setauket, a member of Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook.

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