As DACA Faces Renewed Legal Peril, Evangelicals Across the U.S. Urge Congressional Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, as the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals largely affirmed the decision of a lower court that found that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was created illegally, more than 1,000 evangelical Christians from every state in the country sent a letter urging members of Congress to quickly pass legislation to allow Dreamers to pursue citizenship.
“DACA was originally envisioned as a temporary measure, and ten years after it was announced, it’s clear that it is past time for a permanent solution for Dreamers – one that only Congress can provide,” the letter says.
The 5th Circuit Decision leaves in place a stay that allows current DACA beneficiaries to continue to renew their protections from deportation and employment authorization as this lawsuit makes its way through the appeals process. The 5th Circuit returns the case to the lower court, but either that court or, eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court could lift this stay, removing work authorization from an estimated 600,000 DACA beneficiaries.
“Evangelicals have been urging Congress to solve this issue by passing legislation to allow Dreamers to apply for permanent legal status and citizenship for years, but today’s court decision underscores the urgency of action,” said Matthew Soerens, national coordinator of the Evangelical Immigration Table. “Unless Congress acts, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers — and the families, communities, businesses and churches of which they are integral parts — could have their lives upended. We need Congress to act this year.”
This letter sent today was originally drafted and affirmed in June by several prominent evangelical organizations including the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, World Relief and World Vision, among others. It was re-sent to congressional offices today with the signatures of more than 1,000 individual evangelical leaders and laypeople.
This broad evangelical concern echoes Lifeway Research polling released last week that found that 80 percent of evangelicals support bipartisan cooperation on immigration reforms that would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers along with strengthened border security and reforms to ensure a legal, reliable agricultural workforce. Furthermore, 65 percent of evangelicals said they would be more likely to support a candidate who advocated these solutions, while only 7 percent said support for such reforms would make them less likely to support a particular candidate.
The letter concludes with an appeal to the biblical principles that evangelicals consider their highest authority:
The Scriptures implore us: “Do not withhold good to those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’ — when you already have it with you” (Proverbs 3:27-28). As Members of Congress, it is in your power — and your power alone — to finally resolve the plight of Dreamers, and you must not defer action further on this responsibility when you have the authority to resolve the issue this year.