Dear President Trump:

We are the Catholic community of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Germantown of Philadelphia. We have an urgent message for you on behalf of the immigrant peoples of the United States.

We are all immigrants in the sense that we can trace ourselves back somewhere in our lineage to someone who came from someplace else. You yourself are an immigrant in that sense. Our parish consists of immigrants in that sense and a third of those immigrants are African American. When you say you are opposed to “chain” migration, many of our community think of how Africans were brought here in chains. Though that is not the sense of “chain” as you use it, just the same it serves to point out that immigrants, even unwilling ones, are making this country great.

We hope you will work for the just treatment of other unwilling immigrants, the Dreamers. We believe the one and a half million young people who came as minors with their parents without documents will feel welcome when Congress decides to give them a path to citizenship. Our hearts likewise go out to the many who have lived here for many years under Temporary Protective Status. Apparently no governmental entity has ever thought about defining what “temporary” means. What began as a humanitarian gesture is becoming a nightmare for many families who have been long-time residents of the United States.

Mr. President, we recognize that you want to make America great again. Immigrants truly have made us great and can continue to make us great. Our borders should be controlled but in so doing we should not discriminate by race, ethnic origin or religion. The diversity on our nation makes us great. We should be a nation that welcomes all human beings.

We understand you have a responsibility to keep citizens of the United States safe, but we are certain we do not ensure safety by cutting off the very immigrant life blood that has made our country great. A wall would be a symbol to the rest of the world of our isolationism, of our fear, of our intolerance. Please don’t go there.

We are a people of faith. Like Martin Luther King, Jr, who wanted to “create a moral balance in society where democracy and brotherhood would be reality for all men,” we yearn for the

solidarity of our nation with all people who seek the freedom to pursue happiness and who, in the process, will make us an even greater country.

St. Paul in Ephesians tells us that in Christ we are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household. (Ephesians 2:19). This is the ideal that motivates us as a Christian community. Oneness, unity, not division.

Thank you for your service to our country. It is a difficult task you have and you are in our prayers. Those signed below ask you to do all in your power to make our country great by keeping open the door to immigrants from all parts of the world and by working for a path to citizenship of all who have been living in this country for years without permission.

St. Vincent de Paul Parishioners