Contact: Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler | Director and Chief Visionary, Faith Strategies, LLC, and Advisor to Fellowship of Reconciliation, USA | | 202-302-0307

Clergy Demand DC Mayor and City Council Seek Legal Action Against Texas, Florida, and Arizona Governors for human trafficking and any other appropriate charges and legal action. 

Where: Font steps of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
When: 10 AM, Thursday, October 13, 2022
What: Press Conference
Who: Faith Strategies, LLC – Fellowship of Reconciliation, USA- The Wednesday Clergy Fellowship – The Center for Racial Justice and Equity – The Bayard Rustin Liberation Initiative – The Downtown Cluster of Congregations – The Baptist Convention of DC and Vicinity – Missionary Baptist Ministers Conference of Washington, DC and Vicinity – The Society for Faith and Justice – Clergy of Various Congregations

Washington, DC – On Thursday, October 13 at 10:00 AM national and local faith-based organizations and clergy will demand that the Mayor of The District of Columbia, and the DC Council pursue all legal measures to hold the governors of Texas, Florida, and Arizona legally culpable in the transporting of migrants across state lines through deceptive means without their consent. Over 25 leaders and institutions of various faiths have signed onto a letter calling for accountability and action. A nationwide petition is being circulated. 

“In what is nothing short of a vulgar display of racism reminiscent of the Reverse Freedom Rides of 1962, Republican governors are using the most vulnerable among us as unwilling pawns in a political spectacle designed to make headlines, incite constituent bases with xenophobic proclivities, and advance political careers,” said Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler, director of Faith Strategies and advisor to the Fellowship of Reconciliation. “While claiming to be people of the Christian faith, DeSantis, Abbott, and Ducey are showing utter disregard for the safety of immigrant women, men, and children. Their preaching of religious adherence on political pulpits is a manifestation of the unholy alliance that is Christian Nationalism.”

Since April, the Republican Governors of Florida, Texas, and Arizona have bused or flown thousands of migrants to Washington DC, New York, and Massachusetts in high-profile stunts designed to put pressure on the Biden administration’s border policies.  

While lawyers are uncertain if the governors could be prosecuted on charges of human trafficking or kidnapping no evidence has not been found that the migrants boarded the flights or buses unwillingly, the acts are certainly immoral and in violation of the law. According to Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf, along with possibly engaging in human trafficking and kidnapping, Governor Ron DeSantis, by deceiving migrants – telling them he was sending them to Boston to waiting jobs and instead flying them to Martha’s Vinyard – without a doubt violated Texas’s laws against “unlawful restraint,” a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. 

“The Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest interfaith peace and justice organization in the US, is against the unholy and hypocritical treatment of migrants by these republican governors,” said Fellowship of Reconciliation executive director Ariel Gold. “Ron DeSantis came from a family of Italian immigrants and the wife of Greg Abbott is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants. Despite their families surely having experienced discrimination as newcomers in the US they are showing to today’s migrants the worst, rather than the best, of America’s character.” 

The Republican governors engaging in these deplorable acts are already derelict in their duties to serve their citizens – according to the Urban Institute, Florida and Texas ordinarily expend less than $1,500 per capita in social services, while by comparison Washington, DC, which is not yet a state yet, expends more than $2,500 per capita – yet they are attempting to pass on costs to cities like Washington, DC for political theater in an election season. 

Migrants coming to “sanctuary” cities, such as Washington DC are being served by faith communities, mutual aid groups, peace and justice organizations, and people of conscience who rise every day to help the US live up to the words on the Statute of Liberty declares: “Give me your tired…poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore”.

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