Buddhist Statement Against Detaining Immigrant Children

Buddhist Statement Against Detaining Immigrant Children June 18, 2018

(Updated: there are 1250 signatures as of 6pm Pacific Time; all four living former First Ladies condemn the current President’s policy, 2/3 of Americans also oppose the current policy, and there seems to be a fair amount of lying going on by the White House about the policy and its history)

As reported on Rev. James Ford’s blog and Lion’s Roar, Zen teachers and others from across America have together signed a petition to “unreservedly condemn” the recent policy of separating and detaining immigrant children at the southern U.S. border.

CBS News Correspondent David Begnaud visited the facilities and confirmed in a tweeted video today  that the children are indeed in ‘cages’; the children there are only held for up to 72 hours, and the cages are no different from those used by the Border Patrol in previous years. See his full report here.

Democracy Now has an interview with a youth care worker who quit his job at a Tucson facility after witnessing the conditions there.

More signatures can be added at Change.org. The full statement is as follows:


As Western Buddhist leaders, we unreservedly condemn the recently imposed policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexican border.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of children have been inhumanely taken from their parents by US Customs and Border Protection, in a policy that has been condemned by the United Nations and many international human rights observers. Indeed, no other country has a policy of separating families who intend to seek asylum.

Whatever the legal status of those attempting to enter the US, separating children from their parents is a contravention of basic human rights. Parents seeking asylum make long, dangerous and arduous journeys in an attempt to find safety and well-being for their precious children. Ripping these vulnerable children from their parents is cruel, inhumane, and against the principles of compassion and mercy espoused by all religious traditions. From a Buddhist perspective, it is the close bond between parents and children that nurtures not only the physical well-being of children, but their psychological health and their moral formation.

Separating children from their parents and holding them in detention inflicts terrible and needless trauma and stress on young children that hampers and damages their development, causing long-term damage. This policy being employed on United States soil is morally unconscionable. That such egregious actions be employed as a deterrent for families seeking entry and/or asylum in the U.S. – using the sacred bond between innocent youth and their parents – is unjustifiable on any level. We suggest that our current defenders of this policy visit some of these border crossings and child detention centers so they can experience for themselves the present effects of their decisions. It is difficult to conceive that anyone having compassion for our world’s children and their families, and who witnesses such pain and anguish for themselves could continue to uphold such a practice.

As people of faith and conscience, we feel that it is important that we speak out clearly in defense of basic human rights at this time, calling for an immediate end to this heartless practice. In doing so, we join the voices of many religious leaders and congregations that have unreservedly condemned this policy of separation. This policy is a serious violation of the rights of the child and must be stopped today.

Rev. Tenku Ruff

Soto Zen Buddhist Association, President

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Buddhist Global Relief, Chair

Buddhist Association of the United States, President

Rev. Shugen Arnold

Zen Mountain Monastery, Abbot

Zen Center of NYC

Rev. Linda Ruth Cutts

San Francisco Zen Center, Central Abbess

James Lynch

Buddhist Council of New York, President


Rev. angel Kyodo williams

newDharma Community, Spiritual Director, USA

Buddhist Action Coalition, Co-Founding Organizer, New York


Rev. Kosen Gregory Snyder

Brooklyn Zen Center, Senior Teacher

Buddhist Action Coalition, Co-Founding Organizer, New York


Rev. Zenshin Greg Fain

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, Head of Practice


Rev. Wendy Egyoku Nakao

Zen Center of Los Angeles, Abbot


Rev. Shinchi Linda Galijan

San Francisco Zen Center, President


Sharon Salzberg

Insight Meditation Society

Barre, MA


Rev. Hoka Chris Fortin

Everyday Zen Foundation, Dharma Heart Zen


Rev. Shosan Victoria Austin

San Francisco Zen Center


Rev. Zenki Mary Mocine
Vallejo Zen Center, Abbess


Rev. Jokai David Blackwell

Yokoji Zen Mountain Center, Vice-Abbot


Rev. Myozan Kodo Kilroy

Irish Buddhist Union, President


Eihei Peter Levitt

Salt Spring Zen Circle, Founder


Rev. Kanzan Bruce Fortin

Occidental Laguna Sangha


Rev James Myoun Ford

Blue Cliff Zen Sangha


Rev. Myogen Kathryn Stark

Sonoma Valley Zen Group


Rev. Koshin Christine Palmer

Marin Zen Meditation


Rev. Anne Seisen Saunders

Sweetwater Zen Center

National City, CA


Rev. Melissa Myozen Blacker

Boundless Way Zen Temple

Worcester, MA


Rev. Josh Jiun Bartok

Greater Boston Zen Center, Abbot


Rev. Renshin Bunce

Beginner’s Mind Zen

San Mateo CA


Frank Ostaseski

Metta Institute, Sausalito CA


Eugene Cash

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

San Francisco Insight, Founder, San Francisco CA


Larry Yang

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

East Bay Meditation Center, Co-Founding Teacher, Oakland CA

Insight Community of the Desert, Founding Teacher, Palm Springs CA


Oren Jay Sofer

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA


Rev. Gesshin Greenwood

Blue Cliff Zen Sangha


Rev. Teijo R Munnich

Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple, Abbess

Alexander NC


Joryu Harris

Treetop Zen Center


Rev. Myo-O Habermas-Scher

Dharma Dance Sangha

Minneapolis, MN


Phoebe van Woerden

Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple, Head Monk

Ozena Valley CA


Andrea Fella

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

Insight Meditation Center, Teacher, Redwood City, CA


Barbara Salaam Wegmüller

Spiegel Sangha

Zen Peacemakers Switzerland


Beth Sternlieb


Santa Monica, CA


Anne Cushman

Spirit Rock Meditation Center


Erin Treat

Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center, Guiding Teacher, Vallecitos NM

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

Durango Dharma Center, Resident Teacher, Durango CO


Rev. Patricia Dai-En Bennage

Mt. Equity Zendo, Jihoji, Abbess Emerita

Lewisburg, Pa


Rev. Eido Frances Carney

Olympia Zen Center

Olympia, Washington


Rev. Kenshin Catherine Cascade

Bird Haven Zendo

Cheshire, Oregon


Roland Wegmueller

Spiegel Sangha

Zen Peacemakers Switzerland


Rev. Mark Lancaster

Generous Heart Sangha

Bainbridge Island, Wa


Dr. Bonnie Duran

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

Indigenous Wellness Research Institute

University of Washington, Seattle


Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton

Ancient Dragon Zen Gate

Chicago, Illinois


Rev. Kojun Dana Lederhos

Upright Noble Zen

Anchorage, Alaska


Dr. Jack Kornfield

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Woodacre California


Rev. Grace Schireson

Central Valley Zen

Stanford, California


Rafe Jnan Martin

Endless Path Zendo

Rochester, New York


Rev. Eugene Bush

Santa Cruz Zen Center

Arcata Zen Group, California


Rev. Jiko Nakade

Daifukuji Soto Mission

Kona, Hawaiʻi


Rev. Jisen Coghlan

Boise Zen Center

Boise, Idaho


Rev. Myō Denis Lahey

Hartford Street Zen Center, Abbot

San Francisco, California


Jeffrey Bon Soeng Kitzes

Kwan Um School of Zen

Oakland, California


Rev. Dr. Douglas San’un Phillips

Empty Sky Sangha

West Cornwall CT/ Lexington MA


Nikki Mirghafori

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, CA


Kittisaro & Thanissara

Sacred Mountain Sangha, Guiding Teachers, Sebastopol, CA

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

Insight Meditation Society, Core Teachers, Barre, MA
Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat, Guiding Teachers, S.Africa


Paul Gyodo Agostinelli

Eon Zen Center

Boulder, CO


Arlene Lueck

San Francisco Zen Center

San Francisco,California


Tim Sampson

Calgary Soto Zen

Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Rev. Daigaku Rumme

Confluence Zen Center

St. Louis, MO


Rev. Colin Gipson

San Antonio Zen Center

San Antonio, Texas


Rev. Ben Connelly

Minnesota Zen Meditation Center

Minneapolis, MN


Rev. Ryuzen Robby Pellett

One Pine Hall

Seattle WA


Barry Magid

Ordinary Mind Zendo

New York, NY


Robert Chodo Campbell

New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, Guiding Teacher

New York, NY


Koshin Paley Ellison

New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, Guiding Teacher

New York, NY


Jose Shinzan Palma

Four Vows Sangha, Guiding Teacher

San Diego, CA


Dosho Port and Tetsugan Zummach

Nebraska Zen Center, Teachers

Omaha, NE


Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinmon Michael Newton

Mountain Rain Zen Community, Co-guiding teachers

Vancouver, BC  Canada


Eiko Joshin Carolyn Atkinson

Everyday Dharma Zen Center

Santa Cruz, CA


Rev Dr Zen Ho Taikyo Morgans

Buddhist Council Wales, Vice Chair

Zen Association Wales

Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales, UK


Rev. Zenshin Florence Caplow

UU Buddhist Fellowship and UUCUC

Urbana, IL


Rev Diane Eshin Rizzetto

Bay Zen Center

Oakland, CA


Dojin Sarah Emerson and Korin Charlie Pokorny

Stone Creek Zen Center

Sebastopol, CA


Rev. Petra Hubbeling

Zen Peacemakers Low Lands

The Netherlands


Edward Espe Brown

Peaceful Sea Sangha

Fairfax, CA


Rev.Myoshin Kaniumoe

‘Alaneo Zendo

Hilo, Hawaii, USA


Rev. Genjo Marinello

Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Temple: Chobo-Ji

Seattle, WA,  USA


Rev. Myoyu Andersen

Great Plains Zen Center

Monroe, WI


Rev. Jyoshin Clay

Dharma Rain Zen Center

Portland, OR, USA


Rev. Peg Syverson


Austin, TX USA


Mushin Terris

Sangha Jewel Zen Center

Corvallis, OR


Benjamin Mui Pumphrey

Shenandoah Zen

Waynesboro, VA


Rev. Nomon Tim Burnett
Red Cedar Zen Community
Bellingham, WA


Rev. Daishin McCabe

Zen Fields

Ames, Iowa


Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat

Zen Studies Society and Zen Center of Syracuse, Abbot

New York, NY and Syracuse, NY


Rev. Kotoku Crivello

Deep Spring Temple, Resident Head Priest

Zen Center of Pittsburgh


Rev. Michael Shoryu Fieleke

Morning Star Sangha

Newton, MA


Rev. Dokai Georgesen

Hokyoji Zen Practice Community

Eitzen, MN


Rev. Jisho Warner

Stone Creek Zen Center, Abiding Teacher

Sebastopol,  CA


Rev. Jodo Cliff Clusin

Prairie Mountain Zen Center

Longmont, CO


Heather Sundberg

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Mountain Stream Meditation Center, CA


Judy Roitman

Kansas Zen Center

Lawrence, KS


Matthew Brensilver

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council


Heiku Jaime McLeod

Treetop Zen Center, Oakland Maine


Rev. Enkyo O’Hara

Village Zendo, New York City

Rev. Domyo Burk

Bright Way Zen, Portland OR


Rev. Jisan Tova Green

San Francisco Zen Center


Pamela Weiss

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA


Seiso Paul Cooper

Two Rivers Zen Community, Guiding Teacher

Narrowsburg, NY


Rev. Josho Pat Phelan

Chapel Hill Zen Center, Abbess


Rev. Shodo Spring

Mountains and Waters Zen Community


Rev. Konin Cardenas

Ekan Zen Study Center


Eve Myonen Marko

Green River Zen Center


Val Meiren Szymanski

Bamboo in the Wind Zen Center, Abbess


Anka Spencer

Puerto Compasivo



Donald Rothberg

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA

East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, California


Rev. Reirin Gumbel

Milwaukee Zen Center


Rev. Gerry Shishin Wick

Rev. Ilia Shinko Perez

Great Mountain Zen Center, Co-spiritual Directors

Berthoud, CO


Rev Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts

Heart Circle Sangha, Abbot

Ridgewood, NJ


Seido Martin

Empty Field ~ Zen West, Guiding Teacher

Eugene & Blachly, OR

Rev. Hirosato Yoshida

Soto Mission of Hawaii, Shoboji, Resident Minister

Honolulu, Hawaii


Rev. Jundo Cohen,

Treeleaf Sangha


Ian Forsberg

Hokoji, Guiding Teacher

Arroyo Seco, NM


James Baraz

Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley

Spirit Rock Meditation Center


Rev. Jill Shunzan Kaplan

Zen Heart Sangha

Woodside CA


Rev. Desmond Gando Gilna

Sacramento Zendo, CA


Sharda Rogell

Spirit Rock Insight Meditation Center, CA


Kate Lila Wheeler

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teacher


Barbara Joshin O’Hara

Village Zendo

New York City


Rev. Myozen Joan Amaral

Zen Center North Shore

Beverly, MA


Alexander Haley

Northeast Minneapolis Meditation Community

Minneapolis, MN


Gil Fronsdal

Insight Meditation Center

Redwood City, CA


Susie Harrington

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council

Desert Dharma, Guiding Teacher, Moab, UT


Rev. Inryu Bobbi Ponce-Barger

All Beings Zen Sangha

Washington DC


Dr. Ann Pirruccello

Vista Zen Center

Vista, CA


Rev. Joan Jiko Halifax

Upaya Zen Center, Abbot

Santa Fe, NM


DaRa Williams

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council

Insight Meditation Society, Guiding Teacher, Barre MA

New York Insight Meditation Center, Guiding Teacher, New York, NY


Rev. Jay Rinsen Weik

Rev. Karen Do’on Weik

Buddhist Temple of Toledo

Toledo, OH


Rev. Jeanne Dokai Dickenson

Wild River Zen Center

Nevada City, California


Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke

Berkeley Zen Center

Berkeley, California


Rev. Haju Sunim

Zen Buddhist Temple

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Rev. Eido Espe

Des Moines Zen Center


Rev Zoketsu Norman Fischer

Everyday Zen

Muir Beach CA


Rev. Gyokei Yokoyama

Long Beach Buddhist Church

Long Beach, CA


Michael Kieran

Honolulu Diamond Sangha

Honolulu, HI


Rev. Seikai Luebke

Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple

Maricopa, CA


Dana DePalma

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA


Rev. Toshu Neatrour

Dragon Chant Zen Center

Hume, VA


Joseph Goldstein

Insight Meditation Society

Barre, MA


Mark Coleman

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA


Anna Douglas, PhD

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Co-Founding Teacher

Insight Meditation Tucson, Guiding Teacher


Edward E. Hong

Insight Meditation Society, President

Barre, MA


Ryushin Paul Haller

San Francisco Zen Center

San Francisco, CA


Rev. Steve Aishi Sarian

Three Treasures Zen Community

San Diego, CA


Joanne Friday

Rhode Island Community of Mindfulness

Wakefield, RI


Diana Winston

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center

Spirit Rock Meditation Center


Daniel Terragno

Rocks and Clouds Zendo, Founding teacher and Spiritual Director

Sebastopol, California


John Martin

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council

Insight Upper Market, San Francisco, Guiding Teacher


Peter Schneider

Beginner’s MInd Zen Center

Northridge, CA


Dr. J. Lee Nelson

Everyday Zen

Seattle, WA


Debra Chamberlin-Taylor

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council


Alexis Santos

Insight Meditation Society

Barre, MA


Ryuten Paul Rosenblum



Rev. Koun Franz

Zen Nova Scotia


Rev. Daijaku  Kinst

Rev. Shinshu Roberts

Ocean Gate Zen Center, Capitola CA


Susan KoDo Efird

Sky Above Great Wind

Washington, D.C.


Jeanne Anselmo, Dharmacharya

Community of Mindful Living-Long Island, NY


Rev. Meido Moore

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery, Abbot

Reedsburg, WI


Henry Shukman

Mountain Cloud Zen Center, Head Teacher

Santa Fe, NM


Rebecca Bradshaw

Insight Meditation Society, Guiding Teacher, Barre, MA

Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley, Guiding Teacher

Easthampton, MA


Narayan Helen Liebenson

Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, Guiding Teacher

Insight Meditation Society, Guiding Teacher, Barre, MA


Greg Scharf

Insight Meditation Society, Guiding Teacher, Barre, MA


Rev. Kathy Isshin Havens

Soto Zen missionary for South America

Jisui Zendo – Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


Rev Irène Kaigetsu Kyojo Bakker

Zen Spirit Zen Center

The Netherlands


Laura O’Loughlin

Brooklyn Zen Center, Lay Teacher and Founder


Kakumyo Lowe-Charde

Dharma Rain Zen Center, Co-Abbot

Portland, Oregon


Sydney Musai Walter

Walking Mountain Zen Center

Santa Fe, NM


Ann Gleig

University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida


Mushim Patricia Ikeda

East Bay Meditation Center, Core teacher

Oakland, California


Rev. Merle Kodo Boyd

Lincroft Zen Sangha

Atlantic Highlands, NJ


Dh. Dennis Bohn

Rock Blossom Sangha

Brooklyn, NY


Mitchell Doshin Cantor

The Southern Palm Zen Group

Boca Raton, FL


Rev. Edward Keido Sanshin Oberholtzer

Joseph Priestley Zen Community

Northumberland, PA


Rev. Keiryu Liên Shutt

Access To Zen

Oakland & San Francisco, CA


Rev. Brian Joshin Byrnes

Upaya Zen Center, Vice-Abbot

Santa Fe, NM


Brian Lesage

Flagstaff Insight Meditation Community, Flagstaff, AZ

Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center, Teachers Council, Vallecitos NM

Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Teachers Council, Woodacre, CA


Jan Chozen Bays and Hogen Bays

Great Vow Zen Monastery

Zen Community of Oregon, Abbots

Portland, Oregon


Rev. Ryushin Hart

Corvallis Zen Sangha


Carol Wilson

Insight Meditation Society

Barre, Massacheusetts


Rev. Chimyo Atkinson

Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple

Alexander NC


Max Erdstein

Insight Meditation Center

Redwood City, CA


Revs. Diane Musho Hamilton and Michael Mugaku Zimmerman

Two Arrows Zen

Salt Lake City, Utah


Rev. Paul Tesshin Silverman

Tetsugyuji Zen Temple

Yorktown Heights, NY


Rev. Doyeon Park
Won Buddhism of Manhattan
New York, NY


Rev. Maia Zenyu Duerr

Upaya Zen Center

Santa Fe, NM


Rev. Dosung Yoo

Won Dharma Center

Claverack, New York

* Featured image by Roi Dimor on Unsplash.

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