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Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014

Massachusetts governor says faith motivates offer to shelter immigrant children

Compiled by Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Tue, July 22 7:10 a.m. MDT

 Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, center, closes a folder containing the new child welfare bill as Democratic State Senator Karen Spilka, left, applauds after Patrick signed the bill into law during ceremonies at the Statehouse, in Boston, Tuesday, July 8, 2008. The bill was sparked by a series of high profile child welfare cases, including that of Haleigh Poutre. As an 11 year old, she was allegedly beaten into a coma by her adoptive mother and stepfather. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, center, closes a folder containing the new child welfare bill as Democratic State Senator Karen Spilka, left, applauds after Patrick signed the bill into law during ceremonies at the Statehouse, in Boston, Tuesday, July 8, 2008. The bill was sparked by a series of high profile child welfare cases, including that of Haleigh Poutre. As an 11 year old, she was allegedly beaten into a coma by her adoptive mother and stepfather. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(Steven Senne, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Amid political debates over immigration reform, one politician has offered a bold religious response. Last week, Democratic Gov. Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts said he would temporarily provide shelter for 1,000 of the immigrant children detained by the U.S. government, citing personal faith as his inspiration.

"I believe that we will one day have to answer for our actions and our inactions," Patrick said at a press conference. "My faith teaches that if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him but rather love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

The Washington Post published a video of the press conference, courtesy of WGGB and WCVB.

Patrick, a Presbyterian, was likely referencing Exodus 22:21, which reads: "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."

Patrick's comments came as part of an announcement about potential locations to house the children. He also addressed resistance to the plan, emphasizing that the shelter would be "managed, paid for and staffed entirely by the federal government," The Boston Globe reported.

This federal support hasn't stopped other state leaders from rejecting requests for housing, the Boston Globe noted. Patrick's response is notable not only because of his willingness to offer shelter, but also for his many references to religious themes.

"Every major faith tradition on the planet charges its followers to treat others as we ourselves wish to be treated. I don't know what good there is in faith if we can't, and won't turn to it in moments of human need," Patrick told the gathered reporters.

CBS reported that Patrick stood beside religious leaders at the state house while delivering his remarks. His "voice cracked with emotion briefly as he talked about helping people in need."

Unfortunately for the governor, some of the state's other political leaders don't support his conclusions. The Boston Globe included a comment from Rep. Bradley H. Jones Jr., who, although appreciative of "the desire to be sympathetic and helpful," doesn't approve of sharing state resources with the immigrant children.

Patrick's faith-based hospitality is likely more favorably viewed among religious leaders, many of whom are leading efforts to support the immigrant children. "Churches and faith-based organizations are getting involved in the issue at several different levels, from meeting with politicians to turning their buildings into temporary shelters to simply offering prayers," Deseret News National reported.

Email: kdallas@deseretnews.com Twitter: @kelsey_dallas

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1. Mr.Glass
Salt Lake City, UT,
July 22, 2014

I applaud the governor for doing what is right. It's great that the Bible inspired him to do the right thing, but the Bible isn't necessary to know that providing shelter for immigrant children is the right thing to do.

2. skeptic
Phoenix, AZ,
July 22, 2014

It is a wonderful, and right thing for the state to do. All other states should follow their lead. Up to now America's attitude towards the displaced children has been disgraceful. In other parts of the world, (i.e.: the middle east), where America's and others presence has caused tens of thousands to flee their homes and country to seek asylum and charity from other nations that give and help freely, while the USA acts so bitter towards a few thousand unfortunate children. America should shelter and educate the children, and prepare them to return to their home lands better prepared to survive and help change their nation for the better. At the same time the USA should help those nations defeat their criminals; many of whom received their training in the US streets and prisons.

3. SCfan
clearfield, UT,
July 23, 2014

Does this then mean that when these kids are eventually flown home to the country they BELONG in, that the trip will be longer? Why do I cynically believe there is little chance of them being returned? Oh that's right, Obama is president, and he wants this to be happening. Never mind.

4. JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC,
July 23, 2014

Funny how so many had little problem spending TRILLIONS to "liberate the Iraqi people" but balk at the spending a fraction of that to help out innocent children.

Christian nation are we?

5. Janet
Ontario, OR,
July 26, 2014

Governor Patrick would have my vote if I lived in Massachusetts! "Faith without works is dead."