Evangelical Leaders Respond to DACA Decision, Urge Congressional Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a decision that once again puts the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in legal jeopardy.
While the order will not immediately impact the status of the hundreds of thousands of young people who currently rely upon DACA to live and work lawfully in the U.S., it creates new uncertainty and anxiety for these individuals and their families and restricts the Department of Homeland Security from approving new DACA applicants.
In response to this decision, the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter urging Congress to create a permanent solution for Dreamers.
“Judge Hanen’s decision underscores the importance of a permanent solution to these longstanding challenges, which only Congress can provide. We plead with you to work together in good faith to reach consensus — most urgently, for Dreamers, but ultimately for the larger population of undocumented immigrants in our communities,” the letter says.
The letter continues: “[Dreamers] are a part of the fabric of the United States, and the termination of DACA without a legislative solution would unjustly leave them unable to support themselves and their families and at risk of deportation to countries that, in many cases, they cannot even remember. These Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children, ought not be punished for violations of immigration law they could not consciously commit, and to do so retroactively is unconscionable.”
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 following are quotes from several of the Evangelical Immigration Table leaders who signed the letter:
Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“This new decision is devastating for these resilient young people, and for their families, churches, communities and employers. Congress should not wait for further court decisions: they must act immediately to finally pass legislation that the significant majority of Americans, including the majority of evangelical Christians, say they support.”
Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“The CCCU has supported a permanent solution for Dreamers since the Dream Act was first introduced in 2001, and we continue to advocate for policies that recognize the dignity with which God has endowed all people, regardless of their ethnicity, race, or place of origin. We believe a bipartisan, permanent legislative solution for Dreamers from Congress is the best means to provide a long-term solution for these young people and their communities. As Christians, we are called to care for those who are most vulnerable. Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ There is hardly a population who better fits this description than young people without a legal home who face an uncertain future.”
Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“When they were just children, Dreamers were brought to the U.S. Today, Dreamers are young adults and they’ve become our family, friends, and colleagues. I am deeply disappointed by the recent federal court ruling because it means hundreds of thousands of lives have been put on pause and families are at risk for separation as loved ones stare down a renewed threat of deportation. Poll after poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans, including evangelical Christians, believe Dreamers deserve permanent protection. It’s long past time for Congress to deliver.”
Daniel Patterson, Acting President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“Once again, government inaction is hurting individuals. This court decision confirms that a fair and just solution for our broken immigration system is needed immediately. Too many immigrants live needlessly in constant fear. It doesn’t have to be this way. Christians must not waver in pleading the case for these fellow image-bearers.”
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“For years, Americans of all political persuasions have agreed that Dreamers are a vital part of American mosaic. The present judicial order highlights the urgent need for bipartisan congressional action to protect DACA recipients. As Hispanic Evangelicals who know firsthand the contributions of Dreamers, we lament this decision impacting thousands of God’s children and call for immediate bipartisan action.”