The Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA and the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas have released a joint statement on the 53 migrants who died after being abandoned in the trailer of a semi-truck Monday evening on the outskirts of San Antonio. The surviving victims have been transported to nearby hospitals for emergency treatment. Authorities report that most of the dead are teenagers and young adults, with the majority coming from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.

“Our prayers rise up for them, for their families, and for all who are forced to flee their home countries due to war, violence, extreme poverty, famine and climate-induced disasters,” the statement read, in part.

“We hope that the human traffickers who preyed upon these vulnerable people, and then heartlessly abandoned them to die, will be caught and fully prosecuted,” the statement continued. “But we also acknowledge that our immigration system is often inhumane and broken and has been for many years. It often discriminates against the poorest and people of color, leading desperate people to use dangerous methods to seek safety in the United States. Our immigration policies place heavy burdens upon, and increase danger to, our immigration and law enforcement personnel. We pray and advocate for a more just and humane system that recognizes the inherent dignity of all people.

“We remain committed to working together, as the people of God in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas and the Southwestern Texas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to provide a true welcome to our neighbors who cross our borders legally, seeking freedom, safety and a new life. We continue to do this work through our shared ministry at the Plaza de Paz Respite Center in San Antonio and through other nodes on our network of care across the country.

“Please join us in praying in your congregations and your homes for those migrants who have died, for their families, and for all those forced to flee their homes to seek sanctuary. Pray for all those who serve in our ministries of care and support, and for our elected leaders that they might find the will to work together toward a more just immigration system. (We are including some prayers for your use.)

“Let us pray:

“Gracious God, by day and night we pour out our prayer to you. Keep us working and praying for the day when your justice will roll down like waters and your righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Replenish our strength and stir up our hope as we look for signs of your coming reign. And fill us with the peace that passes understanding—the deep peace of Jesus Christ our Savior, in whose name we pray. Amen.”

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