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California Church Puts Statues of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Cages to Protest Separation of Immigrant Families

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A California church has used its Christmas nativity scene to draw attention to the Trump administration's policy of separating undocumented immigrant parents from their children at the border.  

The figures of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus all stand in separate chain-link cages topped with barbed wire at the Claremont United Methodist Church's nativity scene outside of Los Angeles. 

In a Facebook post, the church's senior minister called on people to remember "the most well-known refugee family in the world" this holiday season, amid the Trump administration's negative rhetoric and policies toward immigrants and asylum-seekers. 

"Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant," Karen Clark Ristine, the church's senior minister, wrote on Facebook. "They feared persecution and death. What if this family sought refuge in our country today?

"Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center," she continued.

More than 5,400 children of immigrants and asylum-seekers have been separated from their parents at the border since July 2017 as a result of the Trump administration's policies, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. 

In February, the ACLU sued the Trump administration over the policy, and in June, a judge issued a preliminary injunction that ordered all children to be returned to their parents within 30 days. But as of Oct. 15, some of those children still haven't been reunited with their families, according to the ACLU. 

The nativity scene is meant to use the holy family to represent "the thousands of nameless families separated at our borders," Ristine wrote. The figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are reunited in another display inside the church, she said. 

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