Evangelical Leaders Renew Call for Bipartisan Immigration Reforms — Particularly for Dreamers
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ten years ago today, the Evangelical Immigration Table formally launched — and gathered on Capitol Hill to express its guiding principles for immigration reform.
Just three days later, on June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to apply for temporary, renewable protections from deportation and employment authorization. But a decade later, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients’ long-term status is in jeopardy as a result of pending legal challenges, and many others — including a younger cohort of Dreamers — are already blocked from DACA’s protections.
Today, in a letter sent to Members of Congress, the leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table — a group of prominent evangelical leaders, denominations, and networks — are renewing their call for immigration reforms, with an urgent focus on a legislative solution for DACA recipients and other Dreamers.
“It’s clear that it is past time for a permanent solution for Dreamers — one that only Congress can provide,” the leaders write. They highlight a recent poll that found 82% of evangelical Protestant voters nationally, including 81% of white evangelicals, support bipartisan efforts to pair a path to citizenship for Dreamers with improvements to border security and reforms to ensure an adequate, legal agricultural workforce.
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.
The Evangelical Immigration Table is also opening this letter to evangelical Christians throughout the country to add their names, with the intention of re-sending in the coming week.
The following are quotes from several EIT leaders whose organizations signed the letter:
Myal Greene, President and CEO, World Relief:
“World Relief has been privileged to be a part of the Evangelical Immigration Table since we launched a decade ago, and we remain as committed as ever to advocating for immigration reforms consistent with biblical values. We are grateful for the DACA program, which has offered hope for hundreds of thousands of young people over the past ten years, but it’s also long past time that Congress act on a bipartisan basis to provide these and other Dreamers with the permanency that only a path to citizenship can provide.”
Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“The CCCU firmly believes in caring for the most vulnerable (Matthew 25:40). For the past ten years we have worked alongside the Evangelical Immigration Table and we will continue to advocate for bipartisan legislation that will provide a permanent solution for Dreamers. We are proud to stand arm-in-arm with our fellow evangelical Christians, urging the United States government to protect and defend these young people and their communities. We believe God has endowed all people with dignity, regardless of their ethnicity, race, or place of origin, and it is our responsibility to love these neighbors as the Lord loves us, welcoming them with open arms. We pray for and ask that, on the 10th anniversary of the DACA program, Congress would pass sweeping legislation to aid in the protection of Dreamers permanently.”
Hyepin Im, President and CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“The lives of so many who have been raised in this country and are already contributing to our economy, and of others who desire to do so, are in the balance. We urge Congress to do the right thing for these individuals and for our country — create a pathway towards permanent residence and citizenship.”
Brent Leatherwood, Acting President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“For a decade, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to govern on this topic, allowing uncertainty to prevail and, as a result, people and communities are suffering. This cannot remain so. Our request has not changed from where it was ten years ago when the ERLC joined with other like-minded organizations to found the Evangelical Immigration Table: pass a permanent, legislative solution for Dreamers. These individuals are an integral part of many communities, and it is time for Congress to recognize them as such. Inaction is not an option.”
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. We are grateful for temporary protections for Dreamers and urge Congress to act now, ensuring our friends, neighbors, and colleagues have the opportunity to pursue permanent legal status in the country they have called home for the majority of their lives.”
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“When DACA was announced ten years ago, it came as the answer to the prayers of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants — and of their families, churches, and communities, who celebrated the hope that this program represented for young Dreamers. But a decade later, with DACA facing serious legal challenges and a new generation of Dreamers coming of age who are too young to benefit from DACA’s protections, it’s clear that we need a better, permanent solution. Only Congress can provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, and that can only happen if Republicans and Democrats set aside their differences and work together to forge consensus. I’m praying fervently that they will.”
Margaret Schuler, Senior Vice President, International Programs Group, World Vision:
“As a Christian organization dedicated to aiding the world’s most vulnerable children and their families we affirm the need for bipartisan cooperation to reform our immigration system to respect the dignity of immigrants as children of God. The biblically-based principles endorsed by the Evangelical Immigration Table and its members seek to do just that while protecting US sovereignty and security, and creating a fair and equitable immigration system.”