Evangelical Leaders, Evangelical Dreamers Respond to Supreme Court DACA Decision
Evangelical Leaders, Evangelical Dreamers Respond to Supreme Court DACA Decision
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, as the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that will, for the moment, keep Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in place, a broad range of evangelical leaders sent a letter to Congress urging them to permanently resolve the situation of Dreamers.
The Supreme Court found that the process by which the administration sought to terminate DACA was not legally adequate. This administration or a future one could still terminate DACA, underscoring the continued need for legislation to address this population.
“Whatever one thinks about the constitutional arguments, we know that this result is a relief to the many ‘Dreamers’ within our congregations and communities who had faced possibility of losing DACA and, thus, their ability to work and live lawfully in the U.S.,” the letter says.
The letter continues: “We continue to believe that this situation merits a permanent, legislative solution. We urge you to act quickly and on a bipartisan basis to pass legislation to create a pathway for those who arrived in the U.S. as children and who meet other necessary and appropriate qualifications to earn permanent legal status and, eventually, citizenship. Polls show such pathway legislation is supported by the majority of evangelical Christians as well as the majority of all Americans.”
The letter is signed by leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table, which represents many of the largest evangelical denominations and institutions within the U.S.
The letter also notes the need for Congress to address the broader challenge of immigrants living and working unlawfully in the U.S., endorsing a “restitution-based” legalization process for undocumented immigrants who arrived as adults.
These national leaders’ concerns are echoed by evangelical Christians who themselves are DACA recipients.
“The Court’s decision brings huge welcoming relief for DACA recipients and families as we all navigate these trying times of the coronavirus pandemic. We are grateful and we celebrate this moment, but we are still fully aware that Congress needs to pass a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers and other immigrants so we don’t have to revisit this again,” said Liz Dong, founder of Voices of Christian Dreamers. Dong arrived in the U.S. from China at age 10; having recently completed her MBA, she currently works in financial services in the suburbs of Chicago.
“It’s a surreal moment. I am so grateful because the Lord has provided. I believe he has helped the justices recognize that Dreamers are people, made in God’s image, who have a lot to contribute” said Jose Ocampo. “At the same time, we’ve been in limbo for so long, that, personally, I have come to terms with the reality that my presence in the U.S. is always at risk unless Congress acts. This is a battle won and I’m grateful, but there’s still so much at stake for immigrants and refugees in this country that we need to figure out, and this motivates me to press forward for reforms.” Ocampo was brought as a 2-month-old to the U.S. from Mexico. He recently graduated from Wingate University in North Carolina and serves as an associate youth and worship pastor at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte.
“The Court’s decision on DACA means that I get to stay home – a blessing I will never take for granted,” said Mickaela Ramos, a senior political science major at a Christian college in Southern California, who first arrived in the United States from the Philippines in 2001. “Hopefully, this decision is one step forward on creating a path to citizenship for all of us.”
The following are quotes from several of the Evangelical Immigration Table leaders who signed the letter:
Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Our network of World Relief offices throughout the U.S. has helped to file approximately 4,300 applications for protections under the DACA program. These young people have come forward at the invitation of our government, submitted to thorough background checks, paid fees and done everything that our country has asked of them. These protections are particularly important now while tens of thousands of DACA recipients are on the front lines fighting COVID-19 as essential healthcare workers. We are incredibly encouraged that these deserving young women and men will continue to have the opportunity to live in the communities they consider home.”
Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“While the court ruled today on a technicality, the CCCU would urge both Congress and the executive branch to safeguard Dreamers. Many Christians believe that the United States stands on Christian principles. The world is watching to see whether a nation that claims Christian principles and that values the free practice of faith will care for the vulnerable. One vulnerable population in particular — young people who are recipients of DACA — has appropriately relied on the U.S. government for protection. Our government promised them eligibility for employment and education, but they had to unmask themselves in order to engage in society, pursue an education, and embrace their future. They relied on that promise by a prior administration, including that their families would not be targeted because they chose a better future of education. The U.S. government should continue to honor this promise so that the world can draw the most promising conclusion about American values.”
Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“We celebrate this momentary reprieve of good news for the Dreamers! We pray for the day that there will be more good news of permanent solutions for the Dreamers and the millions more who seek to be permanent residents in this country.”
Walter Kim, President National Association of Evangelicals:
“We are thankful that, for now, the Supreme Court decision will allow continued protection for Dreamers. Immigration policy is complex, and some aspects may be controversial. But embracing the Dreamers who have grown up in our communities, schools and churches and welcoming them permanently as fellow citizens is a policy everyone can get behind. The Supreme Court has spoken, and now it is time for Congress to act with urgency.”
Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“I rejoice with the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who are making enormous contributions to our country and may now expand their dreams uninhibited. Now I pray Congress will finally take up the Dream Act or similar legislation to do what executive action cannot, allowing these young people to apply for citizenship.”
Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“Dreamers are not an abstraction. They are people created in the image of God, who were brought here as children by their parents. Their entire lives are at stake right now. This Supreme Court decision might address an immediate question of administrative law, but it does not, ultimately, protect our vulnerable neighbors. There is no sending these people ‘back’–in many cases they have no memory at all of the land of their parents’ origin. Those who have lived as good neighbors, contributed so greatly to our country, should be protected from the constant threat of having their lives upended. That will take action by the United States Congress. Most Americans agree on this question, which is quite a feat in times as divided as these. Congress should move immediately to protect our Dreamer neighbors.”
Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“All children – regardless of where they are from or what they have been through – deserve to be loved, safe, and connected. That’s why many children in the DACA program, who are now young adults, came to the U.S. with their families in the first place. At Bethany, we see DACA recipients as God sees them – children created in his image. We are extremely grateful that the high court provided temporary protections for Dreamers and urge Congress to permanently protect our friends, neighbors, and colleagues.”
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“I celebrate the Supreme Court`s decision to keep the protection of DREAMers in place. Indeed, it is a day of great joy among many families in our congregations across the nation. Nevertheless, this is not a permanent solution. Congress now needs to take bipartisan action toward a permanent solution to protect DREAMers.”
The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.
Voices of Christian Dreamers is a grassroots, Dreamers-led movement committed to changing the conversation about undocumented immigrants in the Chur