Young girl standing at border fence
While the Trump administration continues to crack down on illegal border crossings, critics and faith leaders are calling attention to the humanitarian consequences of such policies.

A prominent NYC pastor and long-time advocate for immigrant rights is suing the federal government after she was placed on a federal watchlist for conducting ministry work with migrants south of the border.  

Rev. Kaji Douša, senior pastor at Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan, recently participated in a 40-day “Sanctuary Caravan” in Tijuana with faith leaders from across the U.S. Their intent was to call attention to the plight of migrants seeking asylum in America and provide them with pastoral services.

Apparently the government took notice, because leaked documents later showed that Douša had been categorized as a potential threat to national security and entered into a secret government database. The image on her file was reportedly covered up with a yellow “X,” meaning she had been singled out for additional security screening and questioning.

Fighting Back

Douša has now filed a lawsuit insisting that the Department of Homeland Security and ICE wrongfully included her on the watchlist, violating both her First Amendment rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the process.

“They interrogated her about her motives,” the complaint says. “They interrogated her about her associations. They revealed to Pastor Douša that they had collected detailed information about her and her pastoral work. And they revoked the access she had previously been granted to expedited border crossing.”

Although Douša was just one of many faith leaders who took part in the “Sanctuary Caravan” event, she was the only one to be detained and then interrogated both at the border and once she returned to New York City in January. Douša argues that the actions of these government agencies “significantly burdened” her free exercise of religion, which also includes a focus on serving the “least of these.”

ICE declined to address the allegations, pending litigation.

Faith Community Lends Support

Rev. Douša does not stand alone in this battle. She received a signed letter of support from more than 230 clergy members, including top United Church of Christ leadership. “In this country, the government cannot decide to whom we may preach or with whom we may pray,” it reads. “We believe we should take a stand and say so together … Because, mark our words: If we let them come for some of us now, they will come for all of us in time.”

Some speculate this line was in reference to an unrelated trial against a faith-based border activist Scott Warren, who is facing possible prison time for providing humanitarian aid such as food and water to migrants attempting to cross the border illegally.

Religion and Politics Collide

Border wall between the U.S. and Mexico

This story is only the latest example of faith beliefs being injected into contentious political debates. The topic of immigration is about as searing as a hot-button issue can get at the moment, with the Trump administration cracking down on illegal border crossings as critics continue to call attention to the horrific humanitarian consequences of such policies.

Some of the strongest objections have come from faith leaders like Rev. Douša, who insist we have a moral obligation to intervene and help people who are struggling attain a better life – or at the very least survive long enough to have a chance at one.

Opponents say that this approach, while clearly compassionate, will only incentivize more border crossings and put increased pressure on makeshift facilities already operating well above their intended capacity. Lacking proper funding, staffing, and attention, the situation could quickly deteriorate on this side of the border, which wouldn’t be good for anyone, they argue.

But it still doesn’t explain why a pastor performing ministerial services was placed on a government watchlist. The question is, when did it become illegal to be a Good Samaritan?

58 comments

  1. Sibyl says:

    Why don’t the migrants seek asylum in Mexico?

    1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp, MSW, ADS, OM says:

      Why should they? That is like asking why your ancestors didn’t seek asylum elsewhere.

      1. Sibyl says:

        If they were just seeking asylum they would not traverse two other countries to get to the US border. They are coming to get the free stuff promised to them by the Democrats. Some of them are coming because some liberal American traitors went to their country to get them and help them sneak into the US illegally. Asylum is different than just coming here to get a job or get on welfare. Asylum.

        1. William Matthew Vinson Jr says:

          Requesting asylum is a 100% LEGAL process, regardless of how anyone enters the United States, so please get your facts correct before you call compassionate Americans traitors for helping people with a legal process.

          1. Kim says:

            Not when they cross the border illegally

        2. Hugh grd says:

          Recruiting voters

    2. Lionheart says:

      Because there are more freebies in the USA.

      I didn’t seek asylum here, I legally immigrated with my family after interviews at the American Embassy. I had to show them all my financial details to show I would not become a burden on the economy. All my family had extensive health checks to ensure we wouldn’t be bringing into this country any unknown diseases, or become a burden on the health system. I had to show all my academic qualifications to show I would be bringing value to the USA and to show I had employment waiting for me. My family and I had to show we could all speak the national language of English. I also had to take a test in USA history.

      Having passed all these legal requirement we were welcomed into the USA with open arms. I suppose I can now expect my taxes to help pay for all these illegal aliens who want to bypass the legal requirements. If I went away on vacation and came back to find a family had illegally broken into my home and was living in it, I doubt I’d be expected to take care of them and pay to keep them there. But who knows? Democrats night soon be changing squatters rights as well soon, as long as they don’t squat in their home.

      🦁♥️

      1. T'Keren Valmaz says:

        Hey bud, the U.S. does not have a national language, never has it been otherwise. When it was considered a req to speak english it was also the age of white supremacy and was an unjust way to behave to people.

        Likewise your talking immigration. The article is about asylum seekers. I know its something that some seem confused by but there is a serious difference between the 2.

        Finally a ministers duty is to minister to all. Not based on region, culture, or skin color, and we who take our ministry with the ULC seriously should be siding with a minister unjustly persecuted by the government that is again at the moment controlled by white nationalist scum.

        Fun fact in nevada where I live, both during the heat of summer, and the bitter cold of winter police cant oust squatters as its tantamount to murder. Nor should we who consider ourselves human see it as better for homes to sit empty and unused when there are people in dire need. If anything we should encourage the property hoarders to have to offer such spaces as charitable contributions for tax breaks rather then allow them to write off empty properties as losses.

        Ultimately we must recognize that the attitude of first come first serve is a false one. The history of humanity is one of constant migration and cultural blending. To resist it is to resist that which lead to human civilization developing and our species great works and accomplishments.

        A nation that claims to be the most wealthy and powerful, that calls itself the leader of the free world, and a land of freedom and prosperity to prove these things true and uphold such ideals must with open arms welcome those in dire and desperate situations, and not hold our arms up in fear shying away from the unknown.

        1. Kim says:

          There is no white supremacy……there IS white majority.

          1. minister james says:

            the numbers are changing. Not counting them (the Census) won’t change the fact. Lack of enforceable employment card-check for two generations has led to this situation. America’s traditional love of cheap, pauper labor that can be looked down upon socially, and exploited economically, has led to this situation, which will not be resolved easily-many, many people of color are here, as equal citizens as you. The genius of the Constitution is that it preserves minority rights in the face of majority rule. Time to reacquaint oneself with that, as your particular skin color or religion may no longer be the one of the majority.

            May we all find that better day.

          2. Kim says:

            I don’t deal in “might be”.

    3. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Mexico is the place they are seeking asylum from. Are we on the same page?

      1. Milton says:

        False. They are coming from countries south of Mexico.

        1. Carl Elfstrom says:

          What’s the difference? They all resemble each other, speak the same language, have basically the same customs, and eat basically the same food. And haven’t you heard of the South American refried beans farting contest? It’s a big event over there. The winner wins a lifetime supply of Rosarita Refried Beans, imported from the U.S.A.. Ole!

          1. Kim says:

            When I lived on the border I loved to eat beans and chili’s. I could look down the mountain from my front yard and see Mexico, new Mexico and Texas. The difference between Mexico and Texas was obvious.

          2. Wanda says:

            Those countries south of Mexico resent being stripped of their national identity and have pride and prejudices of their own. They do not all resemble each other. They do not eat the same food–coastal vs inland and then there’s other differences… They need to seek asylum in the nearest country to them otherwise it’s an illegal entry. It is a very complicated issue, but the law is the law.

  2. John A Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON says:

    Simple point of fact: if a person approaches a border crossing and asks for asylum, they are NOT trying to enter illegally. They are in a grey area at the border, because until the request gets approved, they are technically not allowed in. Bringing them across the border and putting them in camps is actually illegal entry, but they are being forced to do so…

  3. Lionheart says:

    Bottom line: It seems Kaji was an accomplice of aiding and abetting to a crime, just like being in a get-away car at the scene of a crime, or am I not reading this right?

    🦁❤️

    1. Bills Spirit says:

      The article does NOT indicate that Rev. Kaji was aiding and abetting a crime. The article states that she crossed the border legally (in both directions) in order to provide ministry and act as a witness to immigrant situations.

      1. Kim says:

        It indicates the spirit of treason.

        1. Hugh grd says:

          Amen to that

      2. Lionheart says:

        That’s so kind of her isn’t it? I wonder if she is also taking care of pastoral needs to our homeless US citizens and vets when she isn’t using up all of her valuable time on those who are not US citizens? It must be a very tough call for her choosing who comes first. Possibly her god is helping her make these difficult decisions of loyalty. It’s a tough choice isn’t it?

        I wonder if she’d be on a watch list if she took care of US citizens? Possibly not! Oh well. Decisions decisions.

        🦁♥️

  4. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp, MSW, ADS, OM says:

    It is amazing how people who are descendants of European invaders actually believe they have more of a right to be here than any indigenous peoples from Turtle Island. No one is illegal on stolen land. That is how we Native People feel about those who are racists and entitled. We laugh at them for being so ridiculous and fearful. If those people don’t like it, they are free to return to the home of their ancestors. The asylum seekers are our cousins, whether white supremacists like it or not. They are the ones who should self deport. This is a humanitarian crisis and we should be reaching out to help those less fortunate like the Jewish Jesus preached. We have survived! Don’t bother to bash my words..the invitation still stands’..If you are afraid and resentful of brown skinned people, just leave. Immigration laws were written by racists. I agree with Rev Dousa.

    1. Bruce sutka says:

      Hallelujah!

      1. Dennis Starr says:

        You seem to go to great lengths to put all your “letters” behind your hyphenated name to try and impress everyone. “European invaders” are you speaking of those who came here 500 years ago? Or are you next going to convince us that YOUR culture was ALWAYS in this land from the beginning of time? Your entire statement is so convoluted that it is difficult to make any sense from it. You insult European’s coming here then claim that “asylum seekers” are your cousins? You are more racist than most and more dangerous because you try and hide behind your ancestry and then use that claim everyone else but you are racist. Your own words prove what you are. .

    2. Sibyl says:

      Different times, kind of. Indigenous people where killing, enslaving and taking each others lands for thousands of years before Europeans got here. Europeans were acting like any other invading tribe. Naïve liberals always try to rewrite history to portray Native Americans as peaceful farmers. They were not. Is it racist to blame the worlds problems on the evil white man?

      1. Kim says:

        Europeans didn’t steal anything. Just because the Indians were stupid enough to sell it for a few trinkets isn’t our fault. Get over it.

        1. Gary says:

          Maybe I am confused but aren’t you the same person who is usually espousing fundamentalist Christian views? Maybe take another look at Matthew, chapter 25.

          1. Kim says:

            I’m not one who thinks Jesus was God.

    3. Stephanie Willey says:

      Well said and actually correct

  5. donald says:

    this is such an interesting minister sight! Yeah cuz they’re criminals they’re not asylum-seekers what a bunch of bull crap that is! I’ve seen these asylum seekers getting money at different places it while i lived in Texas please give me a break free tuition free welfare free medical they’re coming here because they want to bankrupt out country and companies that hire them should go to jail like an apartment complex please this isn’t a Christian actresses us a bunch of bullcrap next you’ll be saying that israel is responsible for unrest in the middle east are not islamic countries! i only want you also as minister saying that abortion is a wonderful thing maybe should be included in like a healthy abortion workout like a daily workout so silly.

    1. Theda Bara says:

      Isn’t it so funny that people who are anti-abortion put such an emphasis on the importance of life and yet these are the same people that when people are in need regardless of what they need but they need something from another human being these are the first people that jump up and say oh no there’s not enough to go around we can’t help you. But you’ll run in front of a truck filled with women who want an abortion because somehow you determine that what is going on in their bodies is more important than the needs of small children and people at the border. That is such a sick thinking. I would consult a psychologist

  6. donald says:

    it’s funny when i live in mexico i was told i could buy land i wasn’t eligible friday special discounts for everything i had to pay for my own doctor visits. O all so that i should be speaking their language which is spanish. Which is actually the language of the conquerors from spain which is pretty funny that they speak the language of the people that conquered them! But when illegals come here they should get everything so in bed. We should be considerate of the fact that they don’t speak english. What a joke liberalism is a mental disorder

    1. Theda Bara says:

      I’ve met so many educated Spanish people that speak the English language better than you. Please learn how to speak your own language write it and edit it! Then you can make your stupid comments in a grammatically correct fashion.

  7. kimberly says:

    Again….this person working against the United States should have his/her citizenship and passport revoked.

    1. Bills Spirit says:

      Nothing in the article indicates that Rev. Kaji is working against the United States.

  8. Carl Elfstrom says:

    Don’t argue with the government about enforcing laws. You will not win.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      It seems to me that they’d have a much easier time sneaking into other South American countries, so why don’t they? Maybe we can gather them up, and take them to another country’s border. I bet nobody else has even thought of that yet.

      1. Kim says:

        Expand Guantanamo prison

      2. Theda Bara says:

        No cuz it’s a stupid ignorant racist idea. I’m ready to throw up right now excuse me.

    2. Kim says:

      In a state of war this action would have resulted in the death penalty

  9. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I’ve heard of some police departments giving certain individuals a ride out of town, and telling them to never come back. They just need a push in the right direction, like to Brazil or Columbia, or some other country over there. They’ve got plenty of room for them, and they won’t even have to learn to speak a new language.

    1. Theda Bara says:

      Someone should have thought to do that with your relatives. I wish they had.

  10. Paul Rine says:

    As I do understand the commitment to help our neighbors, there are limits to what the law will allow. Going to Mexico to assist in humanitarian aid for migrant if al well and good. However going there to teach them how to break our immigration laws and get away with it is not. We have laws that are written for a reason, just like the 10 commandments. If wi instruct people on how to break or circumvent those laws, we are no better than the man who covets his neighbors wife or the man who kills another person just because he can.

    If you don’t like the way our laws are written that is fine. Go to your politicians to get the laws changed but don’t instruct people on how to break our laws just because you don’t agree.

    It is said that when in Rome do as the Romans do. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. It weans that you obey the laws of the land that you are in.

  11. Herb Kleinfeld says:

    You are judged by the company you keep. Right or wrong, that’s the way it is and you’re not going to change it.

    1. kimberly says:

      yep…it tis what it tis

  12. John says:

    If I am not able to help then I certainly should not make it worse for anyone. Choose compassion. Show love to everyone.

  13. Kevin Mccaw says:

    Here in America we have been separating families and putting people in cages and chains since it’s inception. The Irish were put in chains and sold as slaves. This is a shameful part of US history. During the Mexican American war, the Irish refused to fight the poor Mexican Roman Catholics who were just like them, switched sides and fought against American tyranny. After the war the US Calvary hung every Irishman they could find from Texas to California. Muslims and Latinos are the new Irish and Italian immigrants. It takes a trained medical professional to differentiate between a man’s and woman”s bones. It takes very expensive forensic equipment to establish age of the bones and DNA testing for ethnicity. I bet that you can’t tell the difference between Jewish, Muslim, Christian or Atheist bones. We are all God’s children.

    1. Yvette says:

      So true, My great grandmother is Dutch with snow white skin.

    2. Theda Bara says:

      Thank you. We are all children of the same God. We are all deserving of love and care. There are some of us that still truly live by that belief and feel it in our hearts every day. It’s so sad and hurtful that there literally are people in this world that say they believe in God or they are ministers of God but they are selective on who deserves to be loved and cared for. It makes me sick.

  14. oldaabill says:

    There is no human right that entitles one person to another person’s property, relationship, or life. Asylum seekers do not have a human right to asylum. They have a right to lawfully apply for asylum.

    1. Theda Bara says:

      Are you for real? That’s what they’ve been trying to do. Have you been watching anything on television other maybe than Fox? Yeah and I bet your relations just showed up on a boat however many years ago when they showed up. Unless you’re Native American you’re an immigrant too and years and years ago there were no immigration laws so people just unlawfully showed up at the waters or borders of this country. Very few people before the last 70 years came here legally anyway. So please stop. Read your own history.

  15. Yvette says:

    The people have the power to vote racist Trump out! #peoplepower

    1. Kim says:

      How’d that work for you in 2016?

  16. A druid patriot says:

    Applying for asylum is different than applying for immigration.
    Teaching people to perjure up a loophole is itself illegal.
    Illegal aliens are not undocumented workers.
    We americans welcome those who immigrate legally because they wish to become americans.
    Sneaking across the border is not immigration, it is surrepticious invasion.
    Just to define terms.
    Now you may proceed.

    1. Kim says:

      Remember the Alamo.

  17. Theda Bara says:

    I have personally first-hand met more polish and Irish folks that overstayed their visas illegally to remain in this country for years than illegal brown people. They got jobs off the books had families that went to Public Schools and they didn’t pay taxes to receive those benefits. I even grew up with these people. Why aren’t we talkin about those people? Why are we having raids on just brown people? Somehow or other they are different. Could it because their skin is white? Again there are people in this country that need to examine their own racist beliefs. You’re making me sick.

  18. Theda Bara says:

    So many sick Too Faced supposedly God loving people and not enough time to insult you all. Bless your ignorant Souls!

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